I’m lying on my bed right now, laptop in my lap, pretty much unable to move.
This morning, while I was getting into position for my morning yoga practice, I wrenched my lower back and collapsed onto my mat.
The pain shot up my spine, down my legs, and left me shaking and gasping.
And you know what? It’s all cool.
Self-Acceptance: A Cornerstone of Business Success
I realize this isn’t my usual article, chock full of business strategies and online marketing tips. But truth is, business tactics and strategies are only as effective as the human beings who execute them.
And one of the biggest stumbling blocks for entrepreneurs is a lack of acceptance.
Of ourselves. Of our situations. Of our incomes. Of our achievements.
What is Self-Acceptance?
Many people confuse accepting ourselves as we are with passivity. Like, “If I accept myself as I am, I won’t be motivated to change.”
I’ve tried to grow by beating myself up. Sometimes a hit of self-cruelty can get me moving, but not in a useful way. Who wants to do business with someone who exudes self-loathing?
Back to the Back
I’ve had episodes of crippling back pain since my early twenties. And ever since I started reading mind/body books (in my early twenties, coincidentally), I’ve beaten myself up about my back pain.
“You’re doing this to yourself with your stressful, negative thinking.”
“You didn’t get back pain when you were running 5 miles a day. Why’d you stop, you lazy bum?”
“You’ll never cure this, no matter how many different body workers you see.”
So being cool with it is a big thing for me.
I’ve also had trouble accepting my business limitations. I used to get hung up on the fact that I was consulting for people who were richer than I was. My thought pattern went like, “When this guy
discovers that you aren’t kicking it in business, he’ll realize you’re a fraud and will fire you instantly.”
And because I’m a business consultant, I can muster up lots of self-judgment about my own failures. I have trouble budgeting. I can spend days in unproductive wheel-spinning. I’m not making
as much money as I should be making.
All that heavy judgment is the opposite of acceptance. And you know what? As much as you might think that being hard on myself would motivate me, it doesn’t.
Non-acceptance blocks gratitude
Because all that non-acceptance makes it hard for me to connect with gratitude and appreciation. Heck, I’m doing pretty well, aren’t I? I can provide for my family. We took a month off and went to Africa this summer. I own a $40 pair of merino wool boxer shorts. These achievements are nothing to scoff at.
But as long as I’m comparing myself to a more preferable, more acceptable Howie, I can’t see or appreciate any of the good.
And when I can’t be grateful to the universe for providing, why should it send any more good stuff my way? When my kids don’t say “thank you” I’m less inclined to do nice stuff next time. Why should Reality be any different?
So I’m pleased to report that I’m handling my temporary back situation with calm acceptance. Wherever it goes this time, it’s fine.
And I’m fine.
If I could have done anything differently, I would have. So this pain is simply an invitation to explore a profound opportunity for healing.
I’m learning to accept myself in all my glorious imperfection.
And it’s a gift I’m glad to be receiving in my 45th year.
Acceptance enables spontaneous action
When something in our lives or businesses isn’t as we’d prefer, we entrepreneurs take action.
When we’re mired in non-acceptance, our actions are not fully conscious of the Reality of our environment. They’re impulsive, often too forceful or too timid. Not in proportion to the Reality of the situation.
We’re too much in our own heads and not cognizant enough of the playing field to be truly effective.
When we accept the situation and our own role in creating it, without beating ourselves up, we are free to be spontaneous, to deal with whatever is out there (or in here) with fluid grace and just the right
amount of power.
Reality check: There’s nothing unacceptable about us
I get so many emails from readers who feel the need to apologize for their lack of knowledge, or savvy, or success.
Underlying these apologies is often a palpable feeling of shame. Like they believe business building, making money, marketing online are so simple that there’s something wrong with them if they aren’t raking in the bucks in a few hours a week.
Please know: you have nothing to apologize for.
Whether you are raking in the bucks, or have a business that’s limping along.
Whether you have a business, or a vague dream.
Whether your click through rate is 4.3 or 0.2.
Whether you’ve spent your last $24.95 on AdWords For Dummies or your last $2495 on a marketing seminar.
Whether you’re taking swift bold action or you’ve been procrastinating and buying info-products and doing nothing for years.
None of this has anything to do with your real worth. Or mine.
An alternate vision of motivation
Once we tame the demons of “gotta prove myself worthy” and “I’ll show them” and “gotta be rich to be OK”, what motivations remain?
Just a couple: Joy and love.
Joy for the sweet pleasure in expressing ourselves through our work. Bringing the best of ourselves out of our heads and into connection.
And love for others, manifest in the excellence of our service and our commitment to value.
Do you know any businesses that operate on joy and love? I can think of a few – Dr. Holstein, our pediatric dentist in New Jersey, whom we still travel hundreds of miles to see; the Mustard Museum in
Mt Horeb, Wisconsin; my coach Christian Mickelsen’s business; to some extent, the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team. And some others.
These are businesses that I support, not just because of the service I get, but because joy and love are infectious and I often want another hit.
Whatever we sell, we’re selling to human beings.
And whatever humans want or need – more money, a hot car, a thriving business, status, sex, power; deep down we think those things will bring us joy and love.
Why not serve joy and love with every helping anyway?