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It is what it is. Something of a conversation stopper.

A few years ago now I was part of a project team which was tasked with gathering data about a particular service. We were introducing LEAN principles into our IT Department. To prepare the team members for the exercise, which promised to challenge our perceptions, we participated in a week-long transformation, leadership and coaching programme. It was delivered by two LEAN experts, one of whom also had a background in occupational psychology.

Looking back, I guess you could summarise the process as ‘break them down, build them up’. However, a particular ethos and phrase really stuck with a number of us. It is what it is. The context of the phrase was to challenge us to take the data at face value. It’s just data. Of course the broader context is a life message. Take life as it is.

If you’ve read some of my blogs, you may have drawn the conclusion that I’m someone who overthinks things (as my partner likes to tell me!). Yes, I do. I’m a bit philosophical at times. And I’ve noticed how valuable the phrase is when either overthinking or paralysis by analysis has got me in its vice-like grip. You know, it is what it is. Accept it, don’t waste time thinking about it, move on.

Life is a series of events that occur. We may analyse our experience of those events. Sometimes it’s incredibly helpful simply to see them simply as events. It is what is.

Virginia Satir, therapist, and one of the original pillars of NLP, said: ‘Life’s not what it’s supposed to be. It is what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.’

I wonder if you’ll notice what a relief it is to sit back and say ‘it is what it is’ and let go of the analysis more often….. or not?

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