It Is What It Is

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“It is what it is” is often perceived as a sign of apathy or resignation because of its seemingly passive nature. I believe it can be used to express acceptance of a situation, acknowledging that some things are beyond our control or cannot be changed. Sometimes, our most significant challenge can be in accepting.  Accepting a problem, a person, or an organization. I see this a lot in coaching executives. Too often, they hold on to unmet expectations in their current situation. For example, the institution that hires them to drive change, while bureaucracy is the norm.

For one executive, we will call her Sharon, it went like this- “They hired me to drive change, and everyone is fighting it. I feel like I am working against the tide here.” Sharon expected everyone in the organization to be ready, willing, and able to participate in the change initiative. After all, why would they hire her if the organization wasn’t prepared?   She had a choice to make. Hold on to her expectations and continue to be frustrated.   Or shift her perspective and accept that it is her job to create an environment for change. With that shift, she was able to move from frustration to optimism by developing and working on a change management strategy.

In every situation, if we cannot see it for what it is, we cannot develop the right solution for what we perceive as the problem.  As a coach, I hear what my client is or is not accepting.   Together, we examine the situation, their expectations and needs, and workable solutions.

Here are four benefits to “It is What It is.”


  1. Embracing reality: This phrase can signify acceptance and letting go of the stress or frustration associated with trying to change something that cannot be changed. It encourages focusing on what can be controlled or influenced rather than dwelling on the unchangeable.


  1. Moving Forward: By acknowledging that a situation is as it is, individuals can shift their focus towards finding solutions or adapting to circumstances. This mindset can foster resilience and the ability to navigate challenges more effectively.


  1. Perspective shift: It can prompt a change in perspective, enabling individuals to see beyond the immediate setback and look for hidden opportunities or lessons within the situation. It encourages a more positive outlook by redirecting attention away from negativity.


  1. Peace of mind: Accepting things as they are can lead to inner peace and reduce unnecessary stress. It encourages mindfulness and living in the present rather than fixating on what could have been or might be out of reach.

While it can be seen as a sign of resignation, for some, it may also represent acceptance and a willingness to move forward despite difficulties.  Its positive aspect promotes acceptance, resilience, a change in perspective, and the ability to focus on what can be controlled or influenced positively.    The next time you hear someone say, “It is what it is,” do yourself a favor and don’t dismiss it as resignation; you may learn something valuable.