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Permission to be Pragmatic

We, as humans, have a tendency to overcomplicate things, and Lord knows life is complicated enough these days. It feels like the world’s a swirling tidepool of theories and opinions, protests and counterprotests. It’s difficult to make a move without second-guessing if it’s going to offend someone or cause some kind of backlash because it may not be politically aligned with the issue of the day.

One of the rules a wise mentor of ours lives by is to ‘do the very best you can today, and when you know better, you’ll do better’. This advice doesn’t excuse a half-hearted attempt today because there’s always tomorrow. What it does, is encourage you to make the best decision you possibly can based on what you know today, and if circumstances change, reassess and redirect if warranted. But in the meantime, don’t beat yourself up or second guess yourself into paralysis. Do what’s practical and makes sense at the time.

Merriam Webster defines pragmatism as “a reasonable and logical way of doing things or thinking about problems that is based on dealing with specific situations instead of ideas or theories”. In other words, figuring out what’s practical rather than getting hung up on theory or abstract principles. It’s a rational approach to problem-solving because it’s about solutions that work in practice, rather than being ideal in theory.

1. Pragmatic people focus on getting things done by viewing the entire picture, including the roadblocks, in order to get to the end result. They’re practical and results-oriented. Trying to operate based on theory alone (however compelling it may be) can often overlook the challenges of the real everyday world.

2. A pragmatic leader's top priority is to figure out how their team is going to get things done. They have a straightforward approach and don’t allow emotions to distract them. But they do pay attention to the grey areas because those can offer hints as to what may lie ahead.

3. Progress, not perfection. They also understand that sometimes you have to give a little in order to get a little, so they’re willing to compromise to achieve their desired outcome.

4. Pragmatists are committed to doing the best for everyone concerned and solving problems in a sensible way that suits the conditions that exist at the time. They don’t get distracted by an ideal world or philosophy that may never come to pass.

The world needs a balance between those who are pragmatic and those who are visionary. It’s important to dream, strive, and grow. Where things get muddled up is when one comes at the expense of the other.

And it feels like that’s exactly what we’re seeing play out around us at all levels of our society, political and otherwise- the desire for a perceived ideal without much thought about what’s practical, and most importantly what’s in the best interest of all involved.

In our humble opinion, a little more pragmatism would go a long way.

“What matters is what works.”– Tony Blair


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