When you talk about acceptance, what part of the definition do you think of first? Merriam-Webster defines acceptance in several ways. It can be understood as consenting to receive or undertake something offered. It can also be the action or process of being accepted as adequate or suitable, typically admitted into a group. Acceptance can be a tolerance of a difficult or unpleasant situation. You can accept an agreement with a belief in an idea, opinion, or explanation.
When you are a teen, you want to be accepted into social groups! Heck, according to the number of people on social media platforms, acceptance into social groups is essential. Thanks for letting me in!
If you are in a workplace, most likely, you have accepted the ideas and beliefs in what you do. There is a vision and mission to support the efforts of the organization.
Acceptance is described in part as tolerance of a difficult or unpleasant situation. I believe we have all experienced a difficult time or an unpleasant one. The one lesson I learned about tolerance and acceptance came from Holocaust survivor Eva Kor. I was a 5th-grade teacher when I met her with my class at the CANDLES Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana. She told me: “You tolerate a mosquito buzzing in your ear, but respect human beings.” Our friendship lasted for several years as students continued to learn from her. Many lessons we all received.
Acceptance is a word with more depth in its meaning and width in its reach. As an individual and a leader, we have to provide support, guidance, understanding, and accountability in acceptance. We accept others, opinions, ideas, changes, and situations we face. Stop! Hold on! It is not that easy and not exactly what is accepted.
Acceptance comes when we can recognize differences others have and understand it makes our world what it is. We have some extreme groups focused only on the negative impact of eliminating others because they do not believe the way they do; this is unacceptable. Others do not like the way people look by the color of their skin, the way they speak, gender, or other characteristics. We do not teach others to accept others based on how they look, but on the actions and words in harming others. My standard phrase and two rules are applied here. Everyone will feel good and safe. We can choose to be part of the problem or the solution.
A condition we all must work on essential to our mental and social-emotional health is self-acceptance. As leaders, we face daily conflicts we need to balance to help serve others. Our staff combats the same issues. We are all balancing, adjusting, and dealing with information that prohibits us from seeing clearly. Many times the source of the negativity comes from within ourselves.
In our world of wanting to be accepted, we set high expectations and often unreasonable assumptions about the work we do. As leaders, we must recognize this in ourselves, in others and help guide everyone through the steps of acceptance of self. Here are a few steps to take:
Do not think you have to accept everything. We have debates to talk about important issues. We have our core beliefs, values, and religion. Acceptance is in all areas of your life. Accepting does not mean you are endorsing, giving up, or not trying to work on changes. However, there are things we cannot change.
To survive the Holocaust, Eva had to accept situations. Knowing they were not right, she had to calm herself to fight to survive. When you have a diagnosis like cancer, you have to accept to keep your mindset focused on surviving. Looking at our past, we have to admit the wrongdoing and move forward with positive change. We cannot change the past but shape the future. Looking back through a rearview mirror provides a narrow view, but looking ahead, the windshield provides a broader range to help us spread the acceptance of positive changes.
Make today day one of your acceptance days in your journey. Accept the things you cannot control, identify the areas in yourself you can celebrate, provide guidance for others on acceptance and begin to build a solid foundation to stand on as we continue to face more issues daily.
Choosing to be the solution daily is the acceptance in the responsibility to serve self and others with positive outcomes. In order to serve others to the best of your abilities, you have to self-care. It is not easy and I have not always practiced it, but life is a marathon not a sprint, pace yourself!