One of the strengths that I value the most in myself is my strength of perspective. Not only does perspective give me the ability to find the silver lining in all situations, it also helps me to try to understand the nuances between concepts like acceptance versus complacency.
On one hand, acceptance is important for having a sense of peace and healthy relationships (i.e., accepting others for who they are). On the other, if we move into complacency, resignation and apathy, we are likely settling for mediocrity and defeat. To me, the difference between the two is whether or not we have given up on change. Do we believe change can still happen? Are we working to grow in a positive direction? If the answers are no, then perhaps we’ve become complacent.
Less clear cut, perhaps, is how complacency and acceptance applies to our relationships. How can I be accepting of someone if I hope for change from them?
I believe the answer depends on our focus. Are we focusing on who they are versus what they do? Who they are is a combination of their strengths, beliefs, values and history, and includes the beautiful and necessary dichotomies of light/dark, “good”/”bad” for all of these traits. In other words, we’re simply imperfect humans and we’re all striving to find that sweet spot where we can make best use of our strengths, values and beliefs to live the best life possible. Each of us has a different makeup, and thus, different struggles. One person’s struggles are no better or worse than anyone else’s. To accept that in others is accepting who they are.
Accepting who they are is different from accepting what they do. It’s not unreasonable to expect and nurture growth in yourself and others in a way that honors one’s individuality and unique dichotomies while also moving closer to our most effective expression of our strengths and values. It’s when we give up on improving our behavior is when we become complacent, apathetic and mediocre.
That focus on changing others’ behavior should also be balanced with an equal or greater focus on our own change and growth. By modeling the growth we wish to see in others, we can be more influential advocates for the future that we wish to realize.
My perspective strength also tells me that our human shortcomings are prerequisites for growth and positive change. If we believe ourselves to be perfect and refuse to accept our failings, then we are in essence embracing complacency and mediocrity. When we have a perfection mindset, growth and change are unnecessary, undesirable and even impossible.
In sum, by believing in our own perfection, we are not embracing excellence, we’re justifying our complacency. By accepting, and even loving, our humanity and shortcomings is when we can make real positive change happen.