December 11, 2022

This is a time of year that arrives with mixed blessings for so many. A time when feelings about what has been lost push their way to the surface again; and a time when the weight of expectation rather rudely leans on our efforts and stares, arms folded, at our less than perfect realities. A time when we all try to navigate each day neither wanting to dampen the mood for anyone else, nor reveal our own doubts about how we are coping. It is a time when, in the same moment, we can feel the warmth of togetherness and still note the chill left by someone who is no longer there to hug and hold.

I arrive at the year end with a bag full of thoughts that I have collected along the way. One of which is that the older I get the more aware I am of my shortcomings, but also the more grateful I am for every moment when I am accepted for having them. This isn’t something I take lightly or assume is deserved, but it is very special. I also note, for example, that for most of my adult life, and I suspect yours, one of the obligations placed on us has been to develop and to seek continuous improvement. We talk a lot of personal development and professional development. I wonder however if there is an equally valid and important idea that we have under-valued more than we should. Could there be something for us that is vital in a feeling of personal acceptance and professional acceptance?

I do not mean that we should be happy with incompetence or celebrate inertia, but to constantly strive is exhausting and reducing. Perhaps knowing when to let go of developing and to just be ourselves is the best way we can replenish the energy we need in order to move forward again. In the same way, perhaps knowing when to say to our teams “You’ve done great, let’s enjoy this period when we don’t have to fight for everything” might be a gift of unexplored riches.

Even more importantly, I wonder if acceptance is the first step in being truly inclusive. If all our vocabulary at work is about change, transformation, improvement and progression, what message is heard by those who feel outside, or left behind, or who wonder if they will ever be good enough, or who feel that their vulnerability has to be protected not exposed?

Acceptance can be our gift to others so that they may feel we truly love who they are and what they bring; it should also be a gift to ourselves because, despite how we sometimes see our place in the world, we are just right, just as we are.

Especially at this time of year, and even more so when we are encouraged to bang down the door of a New Year with empty resolutions, I hope we can pause and reflect on our stories and love that we are all here in our perfect imperfection.  I hope acceptance may become a feature of how we love what we have already achieved and honour our individual need not always to strive.

I will always have shortcomings, and I will always fall short of what is ideal, but I also hope so much that I will always be accepted.

Thank you for all your encouragement, your kindness and love this year. Every moment when my words have been noticed, it has helped me to accept myself as well. I am so grateful for the time you give me; it is an honour I receive from you that is beyond words.

With my love and my very best wishes, please take care. See you in 2023.

Paul xx

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