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Thoughts on Balancing Acceptance and Ambition

One of the mantras I’ve learned in my daily Yoga practice is “Everything is as it should be.” I find this helpful as it enables me to find gratitude in that moment, be present, breathe and accept the space I am in. But for me it also brings up an immediate question: Really? Is it? Should I honestly be OK with everything right now?

There have been a number of periods in my life, some very recent, where things were definitely not as they should be. There were multiple red lights flashing on the dashboard of my life and meanwhile I was just trying to hang in there. Me IRL:

by artist KC Green

Looking back on those times, those decisions, it does make one lose a little faith in their ability to be a good judge of whether things are truly as they should be. It has made me hyper critical of choices I am making in all aspects of my life. Being mindful is a good thing, but surely there is balance to be found.

When it comes to one’s career I find this even more challenging. I noticed something interesting this week from going through two very different experiences.

Experience 1: I was creating a timeline of the different projects I am on right now and what is coming up. I felt incredibly excited and blessed by everything on my plate. These are exactly the kind of projects I want to be on, the people I want to be working with. YASS: This Is Awesome.

Experience 2: I looked at announcements (thank you social media) from a number of my peers (all younger than me) on what they are working and immediately starting questioning everything about what I am doing. Why aren’t I…. How can I….. Am I doing something wrong? Am I not good enough? Am I not worthy?

It was comical how different these experiences were and how they happened in such close succession. Thankfully I was able to laugh and pay attention from an almost out-of-body vantage point. Nothing had changed in my circumstances between those two experiences. The only change was my attitude towards my life right now.

Comparison is dangerous. We have talked about it here before. Looking at your life journey, choices and results against your perception of someone else’s (you will never know the truth of their situation) can be incredibly damaging. It often can rob you being able to enjoy what your life actually is, accept your lot and fully embrace your journey.

However…. 🙂

I love ambition. Big fan. It is the opposite of complacency (which I hate, nothing irks me more). I think having a drive to be the best you can be – to want to do better and be more – is a great thing! And the thing that often feeds ambition and helps you dream big is the achievements of others. Observing the choices and accomplishments of role models and peers, and wanting to follow in their footsteps, has been an integral aspect of the success stories for anyone who has become someone.

I believe that in order to be the best you can be, you need to find a balance between acceptance / gratitude and ambition / comparison. You need to find the perfect combo of all those ingredients.

I did a little research this week on people’s thoughts on acceptance.

” Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.” Michael J Fox

“With acceptance comes opportunities. And with opportunities come numbers and, most importantly, hope.” Julie Foudy

“The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” Ralph Marston

“There is no substitute for hard work, 23 or 24 hours a day. And there is no substitute for patience and acceptance.” Cesar Chavez

The thing the strikes me about all these quotes is that acceptance is presented as an active thing. Acceptance isn’t passive, especially not when paired with hard work, awareness, patience and hope. Acceptance does indeed go hand in hand with ambition. You cannot get where you want to go if you are not keenly clear of where you are Right Now. Finding a location on google maps is completely unhelpful if you don’t know your current location. Directions are pointless if there is no starting point.

In conclusion: rejoice in the achievements of those around you. Learn from what you see of their journey. Keep your eye on where you want to be. Look at where you are right now, accept the space you are in and be grateful. Then get your arse in gear and work your way towards your goal. Don’t stop. Be relentless.

And make sure you enjoy the ride.

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