Acceptance – Face the Reality of Your Situation

My husband and I had been looking forward to our trip to the mountains of western Virginia for months. It was a field trip with people who love nature and bird watching as much as we do. On the first morning, our caravan of cars was just turning off the highway onto an unpaved road when our car got a flat tire. My husband was able to quickly change the tire, but we realized that we couldn’t safely continue on the gravel roads with the smaller spare tire. We’d have to leave the group and return to town to get the tire replaced. We were really disappointed, but we didn’t waste time grumbling about it. We just accepted the situation, did what we had to do, and then went on to explore some beautiful places on our own.

As a leader, often you’ll be the one to deal with a difficult situation and make a decision about what to do. Ultimately, what you do will have consequences, and they’ll be your responsibility. Would you want to move forward based on bad information? On faulty analysis? On self-deception?

Of course not. You want to deal with your situation based on the facts. But sometimes reality isn’t what you expected or what you wanted. Sometimes it’s hard to accept the truth of things.

When circumstances deal you unexpected blows, it’s easy to get upset and say, “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” You might be tempted to deny the reality of your challenge because it seems too hard to face. Or you could get angry at the unfairness of it and lash out at people on your team in frustration.

But the truth is, that’s the way life is. Bad things can happen that are beyond your control. In those moments, you have a choice. You can accept the situation for what it is and figure out how to deal with it.

Or you can refuse to believe it.

Psychologist Nathaniel Branden reminds us: “Accepting does not necessarily mean ‘liking,’ ‘enjoying,’ or ‘condoning.’ I can accept what is – and be determined to evolve from there. It is not acceptance but denial that leaves me stuck.”

When something unexpected happens to you, move to a place of acceptance as quickly as you can. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to like it. It means that you acknowledge what’s really happening. You don’t make excuses or deny reality.

Taking this approach will help you calm down. Instead of fighting the problem, you’ll think more clearly about solutions. You can work with your team to come up with ways to get through it successfully. And what initially seemed terrible can actually lead to a better place than you imagined.

Copyright Meredith Bell, M.A., Your Voice of Encouragement BOLA TANGKAS