- Acceptance is acknowledging what is. Acceptance is not acknowledging your assessments as ‘the truth’.
- Acceptance means that we are centred in the world as it is and ready for action, rather than consumed and off-centre with our assessments or preferences about the situation.
- We are present, and can take action, rather than being in our mood and conversations.
- We are in the mood of ‘it is the way it is—now what am I committed to, and what actions will I take to fulfil my commitments?’ rather than the mood of ‘I don’t like the way it is, and I’m going to be triggered and perturbed’.
- Acceptance has a lot to do with letting go.
- Acceptance does not mean agreement or approval.
In committing to the path of mastery in any domain, we can centre ourselves in acceptance by declaring acceptance that ‘we are where we are’. We have the skills we have, and do not have the ones we do not have. We learn at the rate we learn, and we do not learn at the rate we do not learn. And it does not have to be any other way, and to insist it should be is to indulge in fantasy. Then, we can accept that we are who we are, and celebrate the gift that this is—that who we are brings the possibilities that we bring*.
Action is shaped by language, and the generative acts of language are the actions that shape subsequent actions. So, in effect:
Action equals generative acts in language, and also physical action that is shaped because of these generative language acts.
We interpret action not as some disembodied activity that we have to organize ‘out there’, but rather as generated by acts of commitments by people who care about some concern.
Action is shaped by commitment—by the commitments we make or do not make, the clarity of the commitment and the ownership and importance of the commitment to the person committing. This is crucial for our understanding of action in organizations, because the fundamental unit of work in organizations is the agreement, not the task. Agreements are commitments.
An assertion is a claim of fact, which is either true or false, to a standard established by the community.
Assertions can be substantiated or refuted through observation and evidence.
The important elements of assertions are as follows:
- Assertions are claims of facts.
- Assertions are either true or false.
- Assertions are speech acts that are measurable or evidentiary and can be substantiated or refuted through observation and evidence.
- Assertions are to a standard established by the community.
An assessment is a statement of evaluation, opinion or judgement. Assessments are neither true nor false. Instead, assessments can be grounded (supported by evidence) or ungrounded.
The important elements of assessments are as follows:
- Assessments are judgements, opinions or conclusions.
- Assessments are never true or false.
- Assessments that you make can open or close possibilities for taking care of a concern.
- Assessments are a speech act and it always has a speaker and a listener (the speaker and the listener can be the same person when you are having an internal conversation with yourself).
- Assessments are also most importantly a listening act, and the reason they are called listening acts is because the way you listen to an assessment will impact what action you will take, and hence will impact the result that you have.
Awareness means that something has been distinguished in our perceptual field, giving us the potential of paying attention to it and putting it into language. Awareness is the foundation of our power to act and interact with another. To be unaware is to be blind. When we are aware of something, we have a choice in our response to it. When we are unaware, we have no choice.
The realization that awareness is the foundation of all action is behind the principle ‘awareness creates choice’. We are literally aware only of what our bodies are trained to be aware of.
*Dunham in his Leadership papers for the Generative Leadership programme.