On my quest for more Japanese wisdom, after the continuous improvement concept of Hansei, I’d like to introduce Shōganai: Accept what cannot be helped and move on.
In leadership, when something goes wrong, it might seem counter intuitive to just let go and accept, swallow your pain/anger/disappointment/hope, you name it. In many successful stories we hear about how, against all odds, the person fought and made it. But in some cases, you have to use discernment to realize that doing more about it won’t be of any use. For what cannot be helped, before reacting, I like to wisely tell myself “chose your battle”.
On a personal note, Shoganai is also close to this stoicism precept, that is dear to me, which reminds us that being emotionally resilient to misfortune is the key to happiness. Accept the moment as it presents itself and do not let circumstances hold control on yourself.
A leader should always be dancing between persevering and letting go but when it gets to what cannot be helped, the dance is over. Let go.
The IT system is down, your budget is not approved, a supplier gets bankrupt, your star employee resigns, so many possibilities that are out of your control.
As a leader, do not moan about how this is terrible/not fair/a pain/killing your year plan. Practice the Japanese philosophy of Shoganai. Accept, Let go and Move on. Focus your energy on working on a solution, your lessons learned and cheering up your team with the next project or opportunity.
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