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Do Wild New Shit

16 Oct

lewis-and-clark-1

“Lewis and Clark were lost most of the time. If your idea of exploration is to always know where you are and to be inside your zone of competence, you don’t do wild new shit. You have to be confused, upset, think you’re stupid. If you’re not willing to do that, you can’t go outside the box.”     -Nathan Myhrvold

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Do Things the Long, Hard, Stupid Way

6 Oct

Frank Chimero provides a great reminder that looking for short cuts is a sure sign that you’re doing it wrong.

 

Seven Tools for Personal Transformation

5 Apr

Evolution of a young plant

This is my shortlist of tools for personal transformation.

1.) Seek Truth
If we are interested in personal growth, then we must cultivate a love of truth, which means observing ourselves and learning that there is a difference between what we think and what we are (“the map is not the territory”). When we seek truth we stand outside of ourselves and evaluate our feelings, our relationships, and our assumptions. As we seek truth, we look for that small light peering through a crack in our stories and we scratch at it. As we learn to accept what is real in the present moment, we are more able to accept whatever arises in us, because we know that it is not the whole of us. While our automatic reactions can derail our search for the truth, acknowledging their presence brings us closer to the truth. When we are willing to be with the whole truth—whatever it is—we have more inner resources available to deal with whatever we are facing.

2.) “Not Doing”
The process of spiritual growth sometimes seems paradoxical because we speak of struggle and effort as well as of allowing, accepting, and letting go. The resolution of these apparent opposites lies in the concept of “not doing” or what I’ve previously called “radical acceptance.” Once we understand “not doing,” we see that the real struggle is to relax into greater awareness so that we can see the manifestations of our own shadows. By neither acting on our automatic impulses nor by suppressing them, we begin to understand what is causing them to arise. Not acting on our impulses creates openings through which we can catch glimpses of what we are really up to. Those glimpses often become some of our most important personal transformation lessons. At first, we may need to intentionally set aside time to practice “not doing,” but over time we may find this practice more fully integrating into our day-to-day way of being (as a friend of mine once said, “the point of basketball is not the timeouts”).

3.) Cultivate a Community
The more support we have for our personal development, the easier our process will be. If we are living or working in a dysfunctional environment (family, community, work, etc.), personal growth is not impossible, but it is more difficult. Most of us cannot leave our jobs or our families so easily, even if we are having difficulties with them, although we can seek out others who give us encouragement and act as witnesses to our growth. Beyond this, we can find groups, attend workshops, and put ourselves in situations that foster the other six tools listed here. Getting support also entails structuring our days in ways that leave room for the people that nurture us. It’s likely that you already have some people like this in your life, but if not then you can easily seek them out. Just remember that support comes to those who offer support (universal law of karma), so you’ll have to risk being vulnerable.

4.) Learn from Everything
Once we have involved ourselves in the process of personal growth, we understand that whatever is occurring in the present moment is what we need to deal with right now. And whatever is arising in our hearts or minds is the raw material that we can use for our growth. It’s common to flee from what we are actually facing into our imagination, romanticizing or dramatizing our situation, justifying ourselves, or escaping into distraction. Staying with our real experience of ourselves and our situation will teach us exactly what we need to know for growth. As we seek truth, we must also be willing to learn from it and develop a “learning orientation,” which means that we look for opportunities to  grow rather than opportunities to accomplish. When we learn from everything we’re free to take chances and make mistakes.

5.) Find Self Love
It has been said many times that we cannot love others if we do not love ourselves. But what does this mean? We usually think that it has something to do with having self-esteem. Perhaps, but one central aspect of a mature love of ourselves is caring about our growth sufficiently not to flee from the discomfort or pain of our actual condition. We must love ourselves enough not to abandon ourselves—and we abandon ourselves to the degree that we are not fully present to our own lives. When we are caught up in worry, fantasy, tension and anxiety, we become dissociated from our bodies and our feelings—and ultimately, from our true nature. True self love also entails a profound acceptance of ourselves—returning to being present and settling into ourselves as we actually are without attempting to change our experience. It is also aided by seeking the company of people who possess some degree of this quality themselves.

6.) Use Your Body
When we think about personal transformation is it easy to intellectualize it and get wrapped up in the changes that happen emotionally, but we must not forget that physical changes often accompany any changes that happen inside. Some people may start with physical work (exercise, diet, yoga) and find that other areas of their life get better, while others may find that as they do interior work, they are starting to feel better physically. The point is that our interiors (thoughts, emotions, beliefs, attitudes) and exteriors (neurons, brainwaves, cells, body) are linked to each other, so if we’re going to endeavor towards personal transformation then we must account for and activity engage the physical body.

7.) Have a Practice
Most transformational teachings stress the importance of some kind of intentional practice, be it spiritual (meditation, prayer, relaxation), physical (weight-lifting, running, yoga), or intellectual (reading, writing, Sudoku) or some combination of them. The important thing is to set aside some time each day to reestablish the scaffolding that you need to support your growth. Practice interferes with our deeply ingrained habits and gives us opportunities to wake up from our trance. Eventually, we understand that every time we engage in our practice we learn something new, and every time we neglect our practice we miss an opportunity to allow our lives to be transformed.

One major obstacles to personal transformation is the expectation that we attain results. The ego seizes on breakthroughs and wants to recreate them on demand, which often only furthers the illusion that we can control everything. The reality is that we are always growing and changing whether we want to or not. The key choice we have to make is whether we want to grow elegantly and intentionally or just get dragged along for the ride.

10 Awful Leadership Models

25 Mar

I love crappy ideas and apparently other people do to. Leadership in particular is an area that seems to get a lot of attention. Maybe these hucksters think they can make a quick buck by selling a few books. Maybe they just think so little of leadership that they’re willing to brand it on anything. Whatever the reason, I find this leadership models disturbing and hilarious. Here are my top ten.

The author is given credit for admitting that the approach is “light-hearted” and for putting a graphic description right up front. As Novak explains, there are five elements to the model; the captain, the crew, the mission, the strategy, and the treasure. What I love most is that the entire book is filled with mysterious numbered lists. Lists like, “the four characteristics of an effective captain,” or, “the three principles of pirate strategy.” None of which seem to be connected to any larger conceptual framework (other than numerology). The whole thing reads like a series of leadership platitudes interspersed with lines from Pirates of the Caribbean. Favorite quote: “Do you know what is more powerful than cannon, cutlass, or pistol? Reputation. Aye, reputation.” (page 34). Read this if your ideal manager wears an eye patch and expects you to sit on his shoulder and repeat everything he says.

Part self-help fluff and part personality theory, Watkins capitalizes on our obsession with seeing human qualities in animals (and vice versa). His four “power animals” the bear, the wolf, the eagle, and the horse, comprehensively catalog and summarize the wide diversity of human traits, personality, behaviors, beliefs, skills, perspectives, contexts, and motivations. I won’t get into some of the more technical problems with these descriptions since it clearly isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. Favorite line: “The bear does not have the capabilities that allow it to communicate clearly. It is making decisions on the fly as to whether or not it needs to leave a situation, threaten severe consequences, or actually bring down the hammer. In the bear’s defense, even when they do maul people they rarely kill.” (page 13-14). There is little value here especially if one has successfully graduated from the 7th grade (or equivalent). Read this if you want to make the author’s grandmother feel like his career decisions weren’t “a delusional mistake.”

Jessamyn West once said, “fiction reveals truth that reality obscures,” and it when it comes to leadership theory it seems that some people would prefer to study imaginary people rather than real leaders. As with all of these models, there is some wisdom – some old wine in new HBO-branded wine skins, but the question then comes to mind: what was wrong with the old wine skins? Is the study of interpersonal and group dynamics just too boring? More than anything, this book is clearly an interpretive exercise for the author rather than a guide for questions about leadership. Favorite line: “I’m sure I would react skeptically if I heard about a book called Bart Simpson on Leadership or The Leadership Secrets of Ally McBeal.” (page xxvii). *please note the irony. Read this is you want something to plagiarize for your high school essay that you can be sure no one else will have read.

To be honest, this one isn’t a surprise. Star Trek fans are famously obsessive about their show. What I did find surprising was that the entire book was written as if it were Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s personal journal. This entry for example; “Captain’s personal journal: Observations on “Communication.” Stardate 45071.3 En route to Solarion IV.” (page 115). The entire book is written as a series of journal entries covering various missions and escapes in which the Captain was able to demonstrate his leadership skills. Not once does the book deviate from this style. The Captain even conveniently summarizes each journal entry with his own highlights about leadership (with the bold assumption that someone would actually make it to the end of a chapter). It contains almost no theory, very little practical advice, and even it’s title adage “Make it So” is never explained or expounded upon. All in all, this is one of the worst books on leadership you could hope to gag gift. Under no circumstance should you read this.

In general, I shied away from leadership models based on religious or historical figures. They typically fall into the “great man” theories of leadership which bestow almost supernatural powers to very mortal men (and they were always men). Not only do these theories typically ignore the complexities of historical context, but they place so much emphasis on innate character that leadership seems hardly worth developing. The Galbraiths eschew the second, but not the first by offering up the Rule of Saint Benedict, written for the administration of monastic living in southern Italy in 540 C.E. The problem is that running a monastery and running a modern organization have very little in common. Like the other authors, the Galbraiths spend so much time spinning straw into gold that they might have well just have written a book about their ideas of leadership rather than use a cover story.  Favorite line: “When, therefore, a guest is announced, let him be met by the Superior and the brethern  with every mark of charity. And let them first pray together, and then let them associate with one another in peace. This kiss of peace should not be given before a prayer hath first been said, on account of satanic deception.” (page 168). Read this if you’re the kind of person who understands what the hell that last sentence meant.

leadership-secrets-of-attila

This is actually Wes Roberts second appearance on the list (he also wrote Make it So: Leadership Lessons from Star Trek) and following the Sopranos before it, the subject of this book is infamous for his ruthlessness. Strange nominations for models of leadership, these gangsters and tyrants prove that the power to lead doesn’t require good intentions. But that’s not my biggest problem with this book. I tried to avoid books on historical figures because they at least provide a little history lesson, but this book warrants its place on my list simply because of its historical inaccuracy.  It reminds me of the great line by Moses Hadas, “This book fills a much needed gap.” There is nothing here but a series of leadership platitudes that are (thankfully) only loosely connected to Attila’s story. Read this if you are planning on becoming an author but fear that your ideas are far too stupid to ever get published.

The book opens with this sentence, “ Wouldn’t it be more than a little strange if the bestselling children’s books in modern times contained some of the deepest wisdom that contemporary  business people  need for successful careers,  great relationships, and flourishing lives?” My answer is, “No, it’s not strange if you go looking for it.” I give this book some credit though, because using Harry Potter as a frame of reference is a smart choice. It’s an extremely popular story meaning that more people will be able to resonate with the leadership lessons. However, as with all of these models, the author has tried to bridge the gap between theory and story-telling, by writing a book that doesn’t do either very well. It’s equivalent to the old saying, “you can’t jump halfway across a hole.”  Either gives us logical insights for leaders or tell us a story that shows us leadership (as in the original Harry Potter). Trying to explain it all is like trying to explain the punchline of a joke. Favorite fact: Amazon’s shows that people who bought this also bought, “Trees of the Northern United States and Canada.” Read this if you’re the kind of person who would prefer to get cooking advice from Chef Smurf and tax advice from Scrooge McDuck.

Toy Box Leadership mines children’s toys for leadership metaphors. It covers popular past times like the Slinky, Play-Doh, the yo-yo, the Rubik’s Cube, and even army men. I can’t help but think that time would be better spent watching the Toy Story trilogy. There are some great examples, like the connection between Light Brite as a way to demonstrate the ratio of signal to noise in a leader’s communication, but there is no fundamental leadership theory that supports it all. It’s just a la carte insights, which makes me wonder why you’d order from this menu of choices rather than a more conceptually robust meal that may actually connect to a large leadership development program. If you were looking for physical objects to supplement a workshop, then sure, this could be a useful book to help you identify some games. Favorite line: “You’ve probably seen it on a T-shirt or a bumper sticker: ‘He who dies with the most toys wins.’ It’s cute but false. The real truth about toys is this: when you live out the lessons these toys teach, you can win today.” It’s platitudes like this that make me question whether human evolution really exists or are we just running around in circles. Read this if you want to set up a coworker for a bet that you can get the boss to buy 100 Slinkies for the next corporate retreat.

Sex, Leadership, and Rock & Roll certainly has a provocative title, but fails to fulfill that curiosity. The essential argument of this book is that we no longer live in the “orchestral age,” but rather a “rock-and-roll age,” in which our ideas of leadership should evolve accordingly. As a metaphor this is weak enough, but considering that the book was published in 2006 (rather than 1955) it makes me wonder just how many years the author had been working on it. Judging from passages like, “Leaders make and engage others with strategic decisions under conditions of high uncertainty of means, ends or both means and ends, (pg. 111)” I think he didn’t work quite long enough.  There are some unique gems including a list of “Rock tips for high performance,” which state without any further explanation  “get hair – in business this is called ‘grooming,'” “Build a massive wall in Berlin, a la Pink Floyd,” and ” Burn guitars after making love to them.” Of course it also includes the usual bromides about motivation, teamwork, decision-making, and vision presumably to help librarians decide where to shelve it. All in all, the whole thing reads like a bad acid trip, which is precisely as bizarre and as unsatisfying as it sounds. Read this if you run a methadone clinic for CEOs.

This is probably the best bad book on leadership I’ve ever read. For starters, the book is written in first person. As in, Santa Claus is speaking directly to the reader. “Another year, I had two reindeer come down with the flu right after Prancer pulled the plug, retired, and took off for Florida. That left me with a thirty-three percent delivery staff reduction (if you count Rudolph) with no immediate replacements (pg. 7).” Second, the book is filled with more empty aphorisms like “Make a list and check it twice,” and “listen to the elves.” There is not a single original thought in all of its 85 pages (the last 10 of which advertise the different “Santa Claus Leadership” courses and tools. There is truly nothing of value here, but I’m left wondering to whom were they marketing this book. Kids? Executives? I just don’t get it. Books like this lessen the credibility of leadership studies and frankly, they even lessen the credibility of Santa Claus. Read this if all other books have been burned up in an apocalyptic elf revolt and your gingerbread optometrist requires that you read something, anything, to maintain your vision.

So there you have it. 10 awful leadership models. What is it that compels us to see leadership lessons in everything that we do? Could it be that our need for true leadership has gotten so bad that we’d look to anything to find it? A horse, a make-believe wizard… Play-Doh? Is this really the best we can do?

MORE AWFUL LEADERSHIP

My Little Pony and Leadership

http://www.succeedtolead.org/pdfs/articles/leadership/pony_crawford.pdf

Viking Leadership
http://timmarks.com/blog/viking-leadership/

Five Leadership Lessons from Batman
http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2012/07/30/five-leadership-lessons-from-christopher-nolans-batman-trilogy/

Leadership Lessons of Indiana Jones
http://www.refreshleadership.com/index.php/2011/11/lessons-indiana-jones/

4 Leadership Lessons from the Lord of the Rings
http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffloftus/2012/07/18/4-leadership-lessons-from-aragorn/

Leadership Lessons from the Toilet Seat
http://www.perrynoble.com/blog/leadership-lessons-from-the-toilet-seat

Muppet Leadership
http://dailygenius.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/introducing-muppet-leadership/

Superhero Leadership
http://www.tonycooke.org/free_resources/articles_leadership/leadership_superheroes.html

Leadership Lessons of Kung FU Panda
http://grafsata.wordpress.com/2009/01/28/leadership-lessons-of-the-kung-fu-panda/

Shrek: Leadership Lessons
http://www.getnside.com/atx/magazine/business/032011/articles/2054-Shrek_A_True_Executive_Leader/

Pee Wee Herman and Leadership
http://www.starkscommunications.com/speechwriting/speechwriter-embraces-pee-wee-hermans-philosophy/

Leadership Lessons from Moby Dick
http://www.inc.com/samuel-bacharach/your-own-private-whale-leadership-lessons-from-moby-dick.html

Six Leadership Lessons from Deadliest Catch
http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2012/10/19/six-leadership-lessons-from-the-crews-on-deadliest-catch/

Leadership Lessons from the Godfather
http://www.fastcompany.com/1826672/offer-you-cant-refuse-leadership-lessons-godfather

Star Wars Leadership Lessons
http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/02/24/star-wars-leadership-lessons-even-geeks-need-guidance/

Conscious Leadership or Leader Consciousness?

20 Mar

Up until a month ago, the term “conscious leadership” was new to me. However, as I’ve immersed myself in the literature and community, it’s become clear that while it may be a new term, it was not a new concept. I’ve been studying the great contemplative traditions for a long time and they in turn have exploring the boundaries of consciousness for thousands of years. So, while the term may be new, the truth it points to certainly isn’t. The benefit comes from the fact that conscious leadership is taking these mystical insights, integrating them with the best research and theory from organizational and leadership studies, and wrapping them it all up in business language that Westerners can stomach.

I think it’s a step in the right direction, but it also means that some things might be lost in translation. The sheer complexity of consciousness studies is awe-inspiring. The history of the great mystical traditions is overwhelming by itself. Then you add the important insights from philosophy of mind, and more recent contributions from good old cognitive-development psychology, and you have this massive amount of great information to pull together. And this is before you add all of the crappy information.

Now, I’m not one of those people who says that you shouldn’t even bother trying to define words like “consciousness” or “leadership.” Trying to define the words you use is an important exercise. It forces us to make difficult choices and create elegant solutions. So, for the purposes of this article, I’d like to offer my own definitions of both and see where that takes us:

Consciousness – The state of being aware of sensory forms (both internal and external).

Leadership – The process of intentional influence of one person upon others.

You’ll notice a few things. First, they are short definitions. This is because I believe that simplicity amplifies meaning. Second, notice that neither of these definitions includes a moral dimension. This is because I believe that the distinction between TRUE and FALSE is much more relevant than GOOD versus BAD. Third, the two primary verbs are awareness and influence. When we put these two definitions together, we start to see that conscious leadership is primarily about the ability to be aware and the ability to influence based on that awareness.

Now, most leadership models would have you believe that you need to be aware FIRST, then you influence others (this would be accurate linguistically because “conscious” modifies “leadership”). This would certainly fit the hero-style leadership models of the past. The leader is worshiped as an omnipotent deity and the central lever when it comes to organizational change. But we know that this is only one side of the coin. The primary focus on the individual is often shorthanded as “leader development” and the collective focus is often called, “leadership development.” The whole of the field is then called, confusingly, “leadership development.” Clearly, we need to do a better job with our definitions.

The field of conscious leadership seems to be a bit confused on this point. Conscious leadership is used almost exclusively to mean the individual awareness of a leader. I would like to submit that there should be an equal focus on “leader consciousness,” which would be the collective counterpart. As much as I respect the efforts of thought leaders in conscious leadership, I think it sells itself short if it just repackages ancient wisdom. It’s a noble service on it’s own, but it won’t really contribute to the leadership literature if it doesn’t expand its questions. What would collective leader consciousness look like? How would it operate? To me, these are far more interesting questions.

Two Kinds of Intelligence

5 Mar

Image

There are tow kinds of intelligence: one acquired, as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts from books and from what the teacher says, collecting information from the traditional sciences as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world. You get ranked ahead or behind others in regard to your competence in retaining information. You stroll with this intelligence in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one already completed and preserved inside you. A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness in the center of the chest. This other intelligence does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid, and it doesn’t move from outside to inside through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead from within you, moving out.

– Rumi, “Two Kinds of Intelligence”

Radical Acceptance

25 Feb

I just got back from the BOLD Academy in San Francisco and I came away from that experience with a renewed appreciation for the personal change process. I’ve tried to capture that insight below. First of all, what I’m trying to describe is a little nuanced (but infinitely practical) so if it doesn’t make sense, then feel free to blame the messenger. Second, it’s equally likely that you’ll get it and won’t agree with it. That’s fine too. Please let me know what you’re thinking in the comments below. I’d like my ideas to most fully represent the truth and we all have important pieces of it.

dancing-at-bold

The BOLD house vibrated with energy, but underneath that energy was a community of radical acceptance and support.

I’m ambitious. And if you’re like me then you know that setting and achieving goals is one of the most pleasurable feelings in the world. I love the challenge of pushing myself beyond my limits, failing, and getting up again. And again. And again. This type of grit got me through my tough times and I certainly wouldn’t have succeeded if I didn’t have a compelling purpose pulling me forward. But recently I’ve realized the limitations of this way of thinking. I’ve spent so much time being pulled forward by purpose and trying to overcome obstacles that I’ve failed to notice something else. The world was no longer the same. Change happens so radically today that my dream job may be obsolete by the time I even start a two-year plan to get it. Careers, businesses, and even entire markets are created and destroyed from month to month. So, I began to realize that I needed a new way of doing things. I think the problem is simply that my ego-driven mindset restricts me from making necessary adjustments to an ever-changing reality. I simply don’t know when a danger sign is just self-doubt (and I should push through it) or when it signals that I need to make an actual change in our approach. So, how do you know the difference?

Well, I have a guess. I think the method for knowing the difference is intuitive rather than intellectual. It is something I’m calling radical acceptance and the idea is pretty simple. If you are resisting your own thoughts or feelings then you are not acknowledging reality and the only way to stop compulsive resistance is start accepting – everything. The reason it’s called “radical” acceptance is because it accepts everything…including resistance itself. Confused? I was too. Here is an story of how this shows up.

A friend and I had just finished a yoga class together and a few minutes later I found her crying. She said that during the mindfulness practice, she finally became aware of all of the negative self talk in her head. The voices that told her she wasn’t good enough. The voices that said she needed to try harder. Her practice had opened up new insight, but as she told me this amazing revelation she became increasingly upset. “I just can’t believe how much of my time I’ve wasted,” she said. “These negative voices in my head have been holding me back this whole time. They tell me that I’m not good enough and I can’t believe that I listened to them.” As she embellished how her negative self talk had been such an awful thing and how she needed to get rid of it. I said, “that’s an amazing insight, but be careful that you don’t beat yourself up for beating yourself up.” She paused and smiled.

My point was that your ego will adapt to whatever thing you fear. If you fear being poor then it will make you feel bad for not making enough money. If you fear being selfish then it will make you feel bad for buying designer shoes. If you fear being superficial then it will make you feel bad for skipping yoga class. Resistance will always tell you that you are not centered enough or not being generous enough or not being spiritual enough. Know that it is all just your ego using resistance against you. And just like you cannot fight darkness with darkness, you cannot fight resistance with resistance. And underneath all of the surface level problems you are facing, the real problem is resistance itself.

dark-room-light-through-window-hunched-man1 PAINT(1)

You cannot fight darkness with darkness.

So, radical acceptance is deeper than just awareness. My yoga friend was aware of the negative self talk, but she had not yet accepted it. She was using negative self talk to keep herself from using negative self talk. It is silly, but also tragic. We instinctively move towards happy feelings and move away from negative feelings. We rarely stop and accept them as they are. Radical acceptance is such an effective approach because it isn’t about moving towards or away. It isn’t about compulsive action at all. When you accept everything as it is without an agenda then your actions will be aligned. When your actions are aligned things will change organically. It’s a complete paradigm shift.

Unconditional acceptance as a means for change is a radical notion, but one that ultimately frees us to walk confidently through the fog of attachments. It’s a little nuanced, but I think that’s the point. Our ego is fueled by resistance largely because, according to neurologists, the brain’s primary function is to curate reality. It’s primary function is to delete information from your awareness. So, if you practice a form of radical acceptance training (meditation, mindfulness, yoga, etc.) then you can offset your inborn brain/ego/curator/resistance machine that blinds you to what’s really happening. If you don’t, then you’ll be living in black and white (which, since we are radically accepting, isn’t a bad thing…it’s just a thing).

So, be careful with the goal-setting workshops and all of the stories about what you are supposed to want. Start by becoming aware of your thoughts and feeling and start by accepting them. If you don’t want to accept them, then accept that feeling. If that thought makes you feel angry. Accept that feeling. If it makes you feel bored, then accept that feeling. If it makes you hungry, then go make a sandwich. Remember that love must be unconditional or it isn’t love. so if you’re going to really love yourself then you need to accept everything about yourself, every moment. The key point is that even when you don’t want to accept something, you can still accept the feeling of non-acceptance.

2012.07.09 acceptance

Love is unconditional or it isn’t love.

Again, the ego is fueled by resistance and it will trick you into thinking that you need to DO something to feel love or find peace. Radical acceptance neutralizes this with grace and elegance. You don’t need to do anything to radical accept. It starts the moment you’re ready for it to start and paradoxically, when that happens you’ll find love and peace (and money and whatever else you really needed). The therapist Carl Rogers said it this way, “It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change. I believe that I have learned this from my clients as well as within my own experience – that we cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.” (The Carl Rogers Reader, pg. 19)

Radical acceptance as a means for change is about being centered not being pushed or pulled. And we all learned in high school physics that when weight is centered it reduces the object’s moment of inertia making it easier and faster to change direction. If you want to survive the pace of radical change, then you need to center yourself and accept the most current reality. Both in your environment and inside yourself. With complete acceptance of reality you will be free of compulsion. You will be free to act when you need to act. You will be free to rest when you need to rest. Paradoxically, it is only when you radically accept things as they are that you or your organization can respond appropriately to the ever-changing demands of modern life.

In 1906, the South African newspaper Indian Opinion held a competition to define the growing resistance against British rule. Gandhi famously adapted one of the entries – “satyagraha” – to define his vision of social change. We often think about acceptance as a passive act and RADICAL acceptance even more so. But Gandhi never liked the terms “passive resistance” or even “non-violent resistance.” In fact, satyagraha means “insistence on truth.” So, radical acceptance isn’t about change. It is foremost about truth. And yet, magically, it is through accepting truth that we change.