I read a very short blog post from Seth Godin about a week ago, and it has stuck with me. I decided I needed to explore the idea a little more. Here’s the brief post:
The word has a very specific meaning, which is why it’s so powerful.
If we accept behavior that’s unacceptable, we’re compromising on something that we thought was too important to compromise on.
And that’s how we end up with the unacceptable becoming commonplace.
For a long time, we’ve probably all heard the expression “accepting the inevitable”. Inevitable is what we can’t avoid. It is coming or happening, whether we want it to or not. It suggests we must resign ourselves to it. Accept it because there isn’t anything we can do about it. The very connotation of the word is negative; we’re not resigning ourselves to something good happening. It always references something we prefer to avoid.
Unacceptable, by contrast, says nothing about inevitability. It simply is unacceptable, meaning not tolerable or satisfactory or allowable. It is a rejection. This rejection suggests a turning away. A stand. A deliberate movement in a different direction.
Where have you begun to accept something you find unacceptable?
Have you confused unacceptable with inevitable?
We all have different thresholds for acceptance. Perhaps you tolerate being around someone you dislike or whose views you disagree with because they are your family. Or your boss. Do you draw a line for yourself about where that acceptance ends and you take a stand? Or does that acceptance turn into inevitability?
Think about your professional life. Have you begun to accept something which should remain unacceptable? Think about the meeting culture of your organization, as one example. Are you accepting practices which disrespect your time? Are you remaining silent when you should be speaking up?
This pandemic has caused many people, including me, to pause, take stock, and reflect. I had absolutely begun to confuse some things which I found unacceptable to be inevitable. I began to accept them even though I didn’t like them. Even though some of these things went against my values.
How about you? Tell me I’m not alone.
It’s time to stop. If there is anything happening in your life that you find unacceptable when you take the time to really examine it, change it. Stop accepting things that violate your values. Don’t be a passenger in your life. Be the driver.