Even (and Especially) When You Disagree

On this blog, we talk about personal leadership. We talk about taking control of our selves in a productive way. So that we can achieve more. And help those around us do the same.

Because when we become sturdy and robust in our approach, it helps.

The other day, I posted about how to keep calm and help chart a course forward when someone (or many) start show signs of getting panicky.

How we react matters. To us, to those around us, to the success of whatever it is we are working on.

Steering things toward a productive use of energy is pretty much always better than fueling unproductive angst.

But what should we do when we disagree with the course forward?

In many cases, we should do the same thing: Keep calm and help move things forward.

Unless the course is illegal or unethical or immoral or otherwise egregiously wrong, then it’s right. At least as far as the course-setters are concerned.

If you disagree strongly. If you envision a different future. If you would like things to go a different way but you can’t bring that change about because you lack the authority or influence, then it may be time to cut and run.

Just not right away.

When you come to a fundamental impasse about the future, it’s ok to hang in there for a while. In fact, it’s precisely what you should do.

You are now free, in the future. You will need to open up new opportunities. You will need to make a change. A change that is probably significant (job, position, whatever).

That takes time. And a series of thoughtful and intentional actions.

In the interim, don’t sweat the small stuff. Even if it annoys you. Because it no longer matters to where you are going in the long term.

Save yourself the angst. Help in the best way you know how. End your story on this project or at this company on a positive note.

Most of all: learn from the experience. Be able to tell a story of your exit that is full of lessons learned. A story that has your fingerprint on it, because you made important contributions. A story that diverges at some point as you position for an exit.

“Yes, that’s about the time I started to really focus on _____, because I could see more clearly the direction I wanted to go in.”

“I found it important to honor my commitment to the project and the team, even though I disagreed with some parts of the plan. Because I took that approach, I learned a lot about _____, something I probably never would have learned any other way.”

Don’t those sound like better things to tell about a difficult situation?

Nobody wants to hear you complain. Including you.

The story you tell yourself matters. More than what you tell anyone else. If you go at it every day with a poor attitude, it will show in your work. It will reflect badly on you. And you won’t feel great.

Keeping calm and carrying things through, even (and especially) when you disagree, is usually a good strategy.

Get what you can out of the experience. Give what you can to the cause. Then, move on, all the better for it.