How to Eat the Pie of Change: Slice 4, “Accept”

16 September 2015

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Over the last few weeks, we have discussed something called the Pie of Change, an idea that was taught to me by my business consultant, Marshall Goldsmith.

We have talked about Slice 1, “Create”: The Fun One, then we moved on to Slice 2, “Preserve”: The Inconspicuous One, and the last one was Slice 3, “Eliminate”: The Rotten One.

In this final installment, we look at the last piece of the pie, where there are the negative parts that you have to keep – the “Accept” slice.

First, here is a quick recap on what these different slices of pie – representing the different options to consider when enacting behavioural change – mean:

  1. When there are positive things that you will need to change so that they can be introduced, these are things you “Create“.
  2. Positive things you already have in your life and are worth keeping are the things you need to “Preserve
  3. Negative elements of your life that you can change is where you need to “Eliminate
  4. Finally, the negative parts that must be kept for whatever reason is when you need to “Accept

The “Create” slice was all about discovering the areas where you can improve yourself. The “Preserve” slice was more about reinforcing the bits that are already helping you achieve success. The last slice we talked about, “Eliminate” was about taking a closer look at the systems you are currently working and remove the ones that are not actually helping you and your business grow.

Slice 4 “Accept”: The Difficult One

Far and away, the Accept slice is the hardest one to swallow. Almost all my business consulting clients have trouble with it. It’s the one that you know is not the best slice of pie, but you have to eat it anyway, whether you like it or not. Most driven and successful business owners do not like to hear the word acceptance. Mainly because they see it as giving up, as defeat by another name, or that it is something that is “unachievable”.

Really driven people do not believe that there is anything unachievable – just not achievable yet. So much so they will drive themselves into the ground and try to do too many things at once in order to fix things that cannot be fixed, and forget to live their lives. In the end, the other slices are relatively easy to understand, especially in business.

Creating means inventing new ways for the business to grow and make profit. Preserving is protecting the core part of the business and ensuring survival. Eliminating is about dropping systems that no longer make sense. Accepting is the one most of our business consulting clients struggle to grasp.

Know When You Cannot Make A Difference

One of the first things I do as a business consultant with all my clients is to teach them how to build a dashboard for their business and how to monitor it. Every business will have a different dashboard full of particular metrics that give a pretty good indication of how good or bad the business is doing. Testing and measuring is one of the clearest ways to make decisions on what to create, preserve, eliminate or accept.

However, accepting is not something most business owners do when looking at their numbers. Even when I have access to the same data as them, most of my business consulting clients always believe there is a way to improve. We naturally want to believe that we can do better – we are naturally optimistic rather than realistic when it comes to our own ability.

The business owners who end up with the most growth are keenly aware of the situations where they are powerless and where they are weak. They are aware of the elements of their identity, and they know when to slow down to achieve more consistent results.

Most business owners however, do not want to hear that they are ever ineffective – in fact, most people, in general, do not want to hear it. When we do, we often reject that notion and act out, determined to find some way to be effective. The result is that we usually end up doing even more damage through our non-acceptance.

However, more often than not, if we accept the things we cannot change, we can let those parts go and focus our time, energy and brainpower on the parts we can do something about. As the serenity prayer goes, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Action Point

This is an exercise that you can do alone, or you can do with your entire team. It is a pretty simple exercise. All it requires is for you to make four decisions. Right now, choose one thing that to create, to preserve, to eliminate and to accept. That is all – just four things. Limit yourself consciously. Peel it all back to the most important thing for each slice of your pie.

As you come up with these, make sure that you are doing it in the most effective way possible. That is, make sure you are using the SMART system – Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Result-Driven, Time-Bound.

Believe me, sit down and challenge yourself and your team on this and you are more than likely to be surprised with the clarity and simplicity you can achieve. Ultimately, this will leads to a more efficient and stress-free way of running your business and your life.

If you would like to discuss any of the points covered here, please feel free to request a free call below.

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