Acceptance and detaching from outcomes are concepts that may require some of us to change our thinking. I have shared these concepts with my coaching clients over the years. There were a couple of occasions in which I was convinced they were going to call security on me but thankfully they did not.
I understand their hesitation. Imagine sitting with an executive or a member of leadership who is being hounded by their boss, the Board of Directors and/or stakeholders to drive results.
From there, can you imagine suggesting to your boss that they consider accepting things as they are in the moment and detaching from outcomes? This is not an easy thing to do because It is not how we have been trained to think. However, refusing to accept current reality and trying to control something we can’t control leads only to disappointment and frustration. An effective leader must think and act differently.
Acceptance is not the same as resignation, which often sounds kind of like, “screw it, nothing we can do here.” Acceptance is about facing reality and not getting mad because it isn’t what we want it to be. It’s simply understanding of what is happening in a given moment. This doesn’t mean that we can’t change it and that it doesn’t mean it won’t change on its own. Good leaders know how to live in the moment.
Detaching from outcomes is a more bitter pill to swallow for most leaders. We like to think we can make things happen, but it is easier said than done. This is known in my coach training world as self-efficacy- the power to influence and manage the trajectory of our lives. We can, and we do. We just can’t plan the ending. We can only accept things as the way they are in the moment, and then act towards changing them. If we are focused on the end game, we will not be paying full attention to the steps we need to take to get there.
Here are some tips that great leaders practice towards optimal acceptance and detachment:
- Consider practicing the art of acceptance the next time you find something totally unacceptable. Ask yourself, how could this perhaps be a good thing? What choices do I have here?
- Think about outcomes as a direction in which you want to head, not a destination. If we move this way, will we be on the right path? Remind yourself that many intervening forces are at work in the universe, most of which are not subject to our guidance.
- Remind yourself of all the times you thought a situation was a disaster waiting to happen and it shook out very well.
- Finally, make choices, be intentional, and respond. Take the time to analyze and whatever you do, don’t react first.
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