Best Boss Take 5 | You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – But Not at the Same Time

We are continuing with our exploration of Peter Senge’s 11 Laws of Systems Thinking, and we’re now up to Law #10: You Can Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – But Not at the Same Time.

I often think about wanting to have it all, especially when I know I have the resources and the capacity. But I’ve realized that I can’t have everything all at once. It’s a shift in mindset that I’d like to share with you. Instead of focusing on not having what we want right now, it’s important to understand that solutions have components, and it takes time to put them all together.

Let’s consider three main points:

1. System Changes are Lag Prone

System changes, those complex issues we all face, have an inherent delay. When you make a change, it’s like adding a piece to a puzzle or playing Jenga. You might see immediate progress, like a falling domino, but the whole change takes time. So that piece, that fix, is your cake … but it may take 6-12 months before you’re able to eat it, too.

2. Watch Your “Controller” and “Hyper Achiever” Saboteurs

I use a framework called Positive Intelligence with my clients, and it helps us understand how we sabotage ourselves. Most of us managers and leaders – even with the best of hearts – have sabotaging qualities called the “controller” and “hyper achiever.” They might help us in small ways, but they can be hindrances in the long run. These tendencies might tell you to hurry, but that won’t help with complex challenges. It’s better to slow down and act like a sage: clear, methodical, and empathetic, aligning actions with core values.

3. Capitalize on Small Wins and Keep Your Vision Strong

When you make progress, celebrate it, even if it’s a small win. It’s like celebrating a piece of cake before you can eat the whole thing. Acknowledge your success, but remember that the full achievement might still be a way off. Keep focused on the big picture and stay strong with your vision.

About Danny

With over 20 years experience in training and leadership development  — and holding an MBA and an MA in Organizational Development — Danny Ceballos has worked with organizations across the country to strengthen their effectiveness in leading and managing others through supervision+motivation best practices and strategies.