Sometimes I have long philosophical conversations with my mother. We talk about the nature of love and she often challenges my perspective. I’ve had similar conversations with other people debating the notion that love and acceptance mean giving people a license to walk all over you.
This is not what acceptance means.
Acceptance is how we free our mind. Through acceptance we find liberation. We are not captive to the past, to the future, or to anything that anyone has done. We free ourselves from all emotional shackles. That is acceptance.
From that place of freedom we find remarkable clarity.
Acceptance is the bedrock of inner strength. Whether it’s a challenging business predicament or a personal conflict, we can examine our expectations and accept the situation exactly as it is. From this position of clarity, we are free to engage fully in the constructive pursuit of change.
We spend so much of our energy caught up in expectations. We expect things from others, we expect things from ourselves. Frustration is a product of expectations not being met. It stems from our desire for things to be different than the way they are. We become emotionally bound by our circumstances. When we respond from this state, we do so from a position of weakness because we’re not operating at our full capacity.
I’m not saying it’s easy. Acceptance can feel impossible and downright unjust at times. But acceptance isn’t an ethical judgement. It’s the internal process of reclaiming our identity. When we don’t accept a situation, it owns us. Our energy is consumed by an external factor outside of our control.
Liberation happens when we identify the underlying expectation in each moment. Why does it exist and why is it not being met? Love offers the recognition that our energy and peace of mind are far more important than any external circumstance. It is through acceptance that we find the fruition of our full potential as human beings. The hardest part might be accepting ourselves.
Very old and beautiful video about my mom’s artwork (in English despite the Russian text)
“To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.”
― Criss Jami, author, poet, songwriter
I love personal development literature. I’ve got a library full of books from Tony Robbins to Eckhart Tolle and dozens of other authors. I’ve spent a good portion of my life striving to be the kind of person I want to be. Yet as I lay in bed the other night, I had an epiphany. What if being better is less about chasing some ideal version of me and more about just being myself?
Human beings are by nature very different from one another. Each person strong and weak in their own unique way. Though we may aspire to some popular notion of perfection, it is through our weaknesses that we build character and craft personality. By embracing our weaknesses we fully harness our strengths.
Our willingness to be vulnerable conveys the greatest respect for ourselves and others. It is through that fullness of personality that we truly connect with another. Authenticity happens when we are unapologetic about who we are while being open and receptive at the same time. This allows us to see ourselves through the eyes of others and grow from that insight.
Vulnerability makes us coachable. A coach can be a specific person or it can be every person we meet. Each interaction offers the potential to learn something new. But that growth is only available when we are open to it and notice the opportunity to do so.
If I could send one message back to myself in the past, it would be this: open up, get to know my strengths, be comfortable with my weaknesses, and just be me. Throughout my personal friendships, my family, and my business, a willingness to be vulnerable has provided me with more meaningful relationships and deeper personal growth.
Being the best we can be doesn’t happen in the future, it happens right now. Truly opening ourselves up to the people we engage with is a choice we can make at any moment. Start with someone you love and then maybe try it in a business meeting or two. Who knows, you might even end up crying on stage as you conclude a TED talk.