Leadership Perspectives: Acknowledge What Is
I know that you have been inundated over the last several years with the concept of “living in the moment”, “the power of now”, the “gift of the present”. And yet, I’m surprised at how often I have to remind myself and others that we just don’t have the power to change the past, or truly plan for the future!
We can only learn from the past. It doesn’t do us any good to dwell on it, stew and fret over it, or feel ashamed or guilty for it. It just is. Ask yourself these questions: What went wrong? What went right? Was it a small moment in the overall good of your life? What can you change going forward? Now, let it go. Yes, completely. You got the lesson and opportunity you needed at the time, and you are done. You will probably get another shot at practicing what you learned in the future.
You can’t truly plan for the future, not in any great detail. This is often where we get in to trouble with building visions, SMART goals, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in visions and goals. As long as they are a direction in which to aim and do our best, rather than a hard and fast rule. And, as long as the goals are relatively short-term. Why? Because we don’t have any cast-iron plan for tomorrow – or even an hour from now. Most of you have heard me say that “life is curly” (which by the way, I borrowed from Susan Scott, author of “Fierce Conversations”). We never know what tomorrow will bring.
The topic I want to share with you is to know what you can change and what you can’t. And, you can only know that by fully looking at the present – and YOURSELF. You can’t change anyone else – their thoughts, their actions or their values. You have even less influence over the economy, the government (politics) or what is happening throughout the world. This includes acts of God – tsunamis, tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
You don’t have the power to make something happen if the conditions are not there to allow for it to occur. For example, you can’t grow a vegetable garden without soil and water.
This may sound fatalistic, but if you have been pounding your head against a wall for a while, it is probably time to stop, acknowledge what is, and move on.
Think of things you deal with that you can’t change. Let me give you some examples: a) You sit through a red light three times. b) Big Dog is old, medicated for seizures, cranky, and having difficulty getting up and down the stairs to go outside, and doesn’t get along well with other dogs. c) Someone I work with closely does not have the same values I have, and I am feeling very conflicted.
Ask yourself the following question: Can I accept that this is the way it is, whether I like it or not?
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou
Well, okay. Please understand that this does not mean you need to approve of it, submit to it, look past it, or even forgive it. All we are doing is establishing the facts of it, including the fact that you may be limited in what you can do about it.
How do you feel when you accept it? Do you notice that when you accept it that there are suddenly more possibilities for you to work with? You have more options – in the moment – for dealing with the difficulty.
So, you say you can’t accept it? Yes, that happens. How would you feel if you acknowledged the fact that you can’t accept that fact? Do you notice that when you acknowledge that you can’t accept the fact that there are suddenly more possibilities for you to work with? You have more options…
Think about the situation or the relationship before you “assume the position”. It is what it is, and you can only change what you have the power to change.
When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. – Victor Frankl
What situation or relationship is occurring in your life today that would be improved by accepting what is, and moving on?
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