It Is What It Is

Paper is paper. Pen is pen. Have you learned anything new so far?

Clearly, I am bothered by the phrase: It is what it is.

If I tell you, “Time is time,” have you come away more informed? Richer for the experience? What if I say, “Time is money”? Ah-ha, now we’re getting somewhere.

Sure, it’s just an expression, right? Yep, and I avoid expressions (like the plague). Expressions have less impact in writing because the brain is accustomed to the order of the words. Mix your words and synapses fire, the brain pays attention. Bury your communication in clichés and your audience loses the desire to focus.

Some might argue that those five short words do mean something. I’d agree. They mean, “What can you do about it?” And actually, I like that phrase a lot more. It invites a solution. Saying “It is what it is” really means, “There’s nothing I can do,” or worse, “There’s nothing I’m willing to do about it.”

Those of you lucky enough to have read Ayn Rand’s infamous Atlas Shrugged will remember the novel’s catch phrase: Who is John Galt? It defined despair, helplessness. It certainly bothered the story’s heroine, Dagny Taggart. She, a woman of drive and purpose, had no use for phrases that suggested that one give up.

It made the Banned Phrase of the Week on one blog: http://bit.ly/en6wbu

Can we just let it go? After all, if I offer no suggestion, I’d be guilty of saying “It Is What It Is” is what it is.

The solution is to say what you really mean. If you splatter red wine on your white dress shirt and the stain becomes set, say, “Well, I guess this one’s going in the DONATION pile.”

If traffic is moving at a crawl and you’re going to be late, say, “We need to require an advanced class for drivers every five years,” or, “I’d rather be driving my helicopter.”

If the members of your volunteer group never get things done, say, “I wonder how much they would get done if we threatened to publicly distribute a list containing their names and the things they refuse to do.”

A little can-do attitude is just what we need to kick useless expressions to the curb – I mean, out of our communication.

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