The "It Is What It Is" Lie


Life can sometimes feel out of control and defeating. Can I get an AMEN? It's a shared human experience when "life happens", punches you in the gut, and leaves you slumped over on the racetrack of life. It can be beyond discouraging when you feel like you take two steps forward and one step back ... or worse yet, when you feel like you've made a step forward and then take a couple steps backward. 

I was just coaching a leader and he said, "I don't quit on other people. Ever! But I always quit on myself." STOP. Always? Do you wanna reinforce that language and belief? Our conversation bounced back and forth as he determined that up until now he's quit on himself when he's felt defeated and life has sucker punched him, but that doesn't have to be the narrative moving forward.

What has been isn't what has to be. It is what it is, is a lie.

I've started paying more attention to when people glibly quip, "It is what it is". I hate it! It's a statement of resignation, passivity, and complacency. Nothing is what it is. We always have control and contribution to what it is and could be. The future isn't set in stone. Your responses to what is and your decisions about the future will write what the future becomes. Your participation in life is essential.

When we say "it is what it is" it resigns us to participating in a better future, a solution, an alternative ending. It moves us into passively receiving what has been dealt to us. No one is inspired to live their best life when we resign ourselves to a less than desired future. 

Perhaps the better response is to acknowledge what "is", know our perspective is limited and recognizing that our perception isn't necessarily a truthful reality. And then respond with how you want to navigate what "is". 

What is now doesn't dictate what it will be in the future.

Your move. Your call. You get to decide what is today and what will be tomorrow. I've particularly learned a few practices that move me from the passive, victim lies of this statement. May they guide you as well:

  1. Practice Gratitude. The brain science behind what being grateful does to our mental and emotional health is astonishing. Saying "thank you" often to people, God, and yourself shifts your mental trajectory. Naming 3 things you're grateful for as you start the day sets the tone for your participation in your day.
  2. Take Ownership. Only you are responsible for living your life well. No one else leads your life. You must take responsibility for the choices you make, the relationships you cultivate, and the work you do. Blaming circumstances and others may make you feel better for a hot second, but it doesn't produce any transformation in you, nor does it allow you to lead your life well.
  3. What got me here won't get me there. Past experiences are powerful guides and informants to us for the future. But they are limited. There are really helpful tools, skills, relationships, and disciplines that got me where I am today. But if I want to change the narrative for my future, it commands that I do new things to get different results. Learning, growing, trying new things, failing, exploring, and cultivating curiosity are all practices for me to reject the lie of "it is what it is".
  4. Call me on it. It's crazy how easy passivity and lack of participation in my own life can sneak up on me. I work hard to live with intention, discipline, and from a healthy center. But I don't do it well all the time. I need those closest around me to call me on my poor thinking, unhealthy responses to circumstances, and lift my vision to what can be. I need my people to call me on my shit and my potential. 

Don't believe the lie. You were made for more and the world needs you to bring your best to every facet of your life. Show up and create a beautiful new future.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.