A popular Marine motto is “improvise, adapt, overcome.” In work and life, people are often good at the first two and less so on the last. They contort and adapt to the situations at hand instead of taking on issues head on. People will talk themselves into a job that is not a good fit for them. Leaders might tolerate poor behavior if they feel the company “cannot live without” that employee. We can overlook behaviors in ourselves and others that no longer work.

Choosing adapting over correcting can be hard, but the consequences are often more expensive than we realize. Cost can include collateral damage (if it is not good for us, it is likely not good for others), carrying costs (emotional costs of worry and anxiety), direct costs (time, money, new business), opportunity costs (things we cannot pursue because of the current condition), and hits to self-esteem (not living up to our values and image of ourselves).

People can do the math, but they often wait until they have paid a high price before making a move. Are there issues and situations to which you feel resigned? Give them another look. When we look at all the costs, the math often favors a more proactive approach.

(My new book, Untenable addresses these and many other factors to related to unsustainable conditions that can affect leaders. Click here to learn more.)