In one of my last group coaching sessions, we had a great debate about the meaning of the word ACCEPTANCE. I, as coach, had introduced the distinction between ACCEPTANCE and TOLERANCE and this caused a strong discussion. Working in an environment where some 50 nationalities coexist is conducive to diverse subjects: political, religious or social …
Later at home, and because of the comments that arose, I began to analyze my relationship with my children, and in particular the one with ADHD. You know, these kids that take us out of the box in microseconds; who often propose things or have ideas seemingly nonsensical and meaningless, who disrupt our schedules ruthlessly, who often do not listen and do not obey … we end up defending them with tooth and nail because they are our children, and because we love them.
For now, I will say that according to the Royal Academy of Spanish Language: TO ACCEPT is ‘to approve, for good’, and TO TOLERATE is ‘to allow something that is not lawful’. I would like to ask you to observe yourself for, let’s say a week, and to identify how often you use those two words. It is important to be aware of how we live with these two words because they have very different connotations.
When I tolerate, I’m being lenient with you, I’m doing you a favor. Because I really think it’s me who is right and I decide that I will tolerate your opinion or your behavior. And besides, I’m able to put my limits of tolerance. But acceptance is another matter.
When I accept you, THERE ARE NO LIMITS. My opinions are not above yours, I identify and recognize you as someone other than me, and I can have a relationship with you with respect and equality.
If you transfer this to the world of leadership, I think the more experience and self-leadership a person has, the easier it will be to live in the world of acceptance.
And what about us, parents of ADHD children? What will you decide? Live and establish a relationship of tolerance or acceptance? I want to live with acceptance but it’s pretty hard for me. And these are the tricks I’ve seen that work to move from tolerance to acceptance in my relationships with the people I love.
The first is about being flexible to allow time to distinguish what is important from what is not. Sometimes I can react too quickly, but remaining flexible. I can recognize where I have to invest my energies. The second is about practicing patience. This virtue can identify the differences we have with others; live with them and end up accepting them. Flexibility and patience have helped me: at home I realized that I used the two words a lot but only in a negative way! ‘It is unacceptable not to follow through with what you just promised’ and / or we do not tolerate the mess in this house’.
And that was the inspiration that drove me to change.
The word ACCEPTANCE seems wonderful to me. Lately I find it even inspiring. It drives me to move from the world of answers (negative in their majority) to the world of questions (What is happening to make him react like this? Is this so important for him? What can I do to help him?) And suddenly, new possibilities open new paths for him and for me. But best of all: I feel my heart swells and I’m happy.
I encourage you to watch yourself and decide what you want to do. And let’s not forget something very important: how do we look at ourselves? Do we accept ourselves? Are we aware of our own resources at our disposal and do we move through the world with authenticity?
Have a nice week-end!