Tuesday, November 01, 2020

Active Acceptance

Slow Leaders save themselves time and effort by recognizing what they are responsible for dealing with and what they aren't. They don't get distracted or upset by things they cannot change. I call this Active Acceptance.

Active Acceptance means seeing and accepting reality, then finding ways to live productively whatever the circumstances. It isn't the same as being passive, or "accepting" in the sense of simply letting things be if they aren't working. It's trying to understand what's going on as objectively and fully as possible, then acting with the knowledge there will be some circumstances you cannot change. Sorting what you can do something about from what you can't is the first step in focusing on correct action.

This takes time and thought, which is why those leaders who rush at everything often get it wrong. It also requires humility. Large egos act as if everything in the world depends on them. They hurl themselves at obstacles they cannot break and ignore simpler, more personal areas where they have absolute control.

For example, you cannot control external events. Things happen. Good or bad, most of them have little or nothing to do with you or what you want. But some do. They result in part from your past behavior. And while the outcome of what you did or said may not be completely under your control, your present actions and responses are. You can complain you're too busy, too stressed or that life is unfair (which it is). Or you can accept responsibility for your actions, do what you can, and get on with your life.

Once it's clear whether change or action is possible, your job is to live as productively as possible in the real world. This means changing whatever is blocking or restricting progress and is within your power to change. It also means finding ways to cope with what can't be changed or ways to go around it.

Active Acceptance is worlds apart from fatalism or the dull belief nothing better is possible. It's about first accepting what must be accepted and making it part of the reality you are dealing with; then finding ways to live productively just the same. It's learning to focus on what matters and withdrawing attention from the rest. It’s doing whatever you can to live productively and be an effective member of society. Since just about everything we have we owe to someone else — parents, teachers, benefactors, taxpayers — to live productively is also to give back to others what we have received, by doing what we can to make the world a better place.

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