The Secret to Getting Things Done: Acceptance, Love, and Patience

Are you like me? When you decide to do a thing, you want to act immediately. You strive for constant progress toward your goal, then you run into obstacles… things that are out of your control… like other people who have other plans… but you need them to reach your goal. Then you try to force progress by pushing and prodding and pulling, which only seems to cause others to push back harder. The harder you push, the slower the progress and the higher your frustration. Sometimes you want to quit. Other times you blame others and start to think they are incompetent or lazy. Maybe you eventually give up. You believe you did everything right. If only the other people had “stepped up” everything would have worked. You believe you are a victim of bad breaks, laziness, and difficult people.

The above is called self-will run riot and it is a sure recipe for failure.

But you’ve had the opposite experience too, haven’t you? You’ve had moments in business, or golf, or parenting, or marriage, when everything is perfect, the zen moment. It’s almost like the universe is running everything perfectly and you are just observing it in all its perfection. In these moments, you are experiencing something very close to the truth about reality.

What I’m describing here are two polar extremes. Most of us live somewhere in between.

On one side we have the misguided idea that we can CREATE BY FORCE, but clearly we can see in our own lives, that attempting to create our future by force results in the exact opposite, destruction and failure.

Why do we believe this nonsense about force?
Answer: We live in a culture where we are taught from our earliest days that problems are solved by the application of force. Popular culture action heroes and athletes delude us into thinking we can create a better world via physical strength, will power, and force.

But it is a lie. Force is only justified when someone else has initiated force against us, and even then it isn’t creative. It can only attempt to end the destruction so the natural state of creation can begin anew.

In truth, creation is a process you set in motion, but you can’t control. It’s like a magnificent story that unfolds before your eyes. You focus your thoughts and your actions on your goal and you seek acceptance voluntarily. Creation is the act of allowing. Acceptance and allowing require love and patience. They require humbling yourself to the immense creative power of the universe. It requires “getting over yourself” while simultaneously knowing “the only thing you control is yourself.” All the rest of creation happens on it’s own.

16 thoughts on “The Secret to Getting Things Done: Acceptance, Love, and Patience”

  1. Shanna,
    I do too. This is about improvement not perfection. It is one thing to know something, it is quite another thing to build it into a habit.

  2. Depends what you mean by ‘force’.

    I agree that you shouldn’t use force against another person, but as I think back over the things I’ve done and achieved, the things that were really what i wanted, they were tough! There were setbacks along the way that I had to ‘force’ my way through.

    I agree that whatever we do should be shaped in terms of challenge, feedback and other things so that we experience as much of this ‘zen’ moment as possible, but I think there are times in any pursuit when you just need to power through!

  3. Warren,

    Pushing yourself is one thing, forcing your will upon others or the universe or God is another. For example you can choose to practice endlessly, but you can’t force the result of that action. The result will be what it is and there is nothing you can do about it. You can ‘make’ yourself do anything you want, which really isn’t force at all, it’s decision making. Force comes into play when you try to force a result. All you can do is accept results, then choose a different action for yourself if you don’t like the results.

  4. OK I think I get what you’re saying: you apply the ‘force’ to yourself (which isn’t really force), but you detach yourself from the outcome of your efforts? And whatever they are, you just accept?

    That’s an interesting perspective, that I’m quite intrigued by. Reminds me of Taoist ideas. Just to help me understand this perspective more, how does it fit in with people who really did force their “will on the universe”, so to speak? Classic example I suppose is Edison and his 1,000 lightbulbs, or Schwarzenegger and his numerous bodybuilding achievements, or even myself when I pushed for the highest grade at university (and got it).

    Were we not using force?

  5. Warren,

    If I understand, I think you are saying that if you want to achieve goals you must demand persistence and hard work from yourself. I agree. But that isn’t what I mean by force. To me force is the attempt get what you want on your terms only. Reality never works like that, it slaps you when you try it. Edison knew he would find a way to create the light bulb, but he didn’t force the “how” and the “when” and whether or not it would be accepted by consumers. You can’t “force” a teacher to give you an A on a paper, but you can “let” her give you an A. All you can do is put forth your best effort. The decision to give you an A is hers.

  6. So force is not defined by the amount of work and effort you put into a particular goal, but by trying to force a goal’s completion at a specific time, or in a specific way? So it’s best not to be specific with a goal? Or at least, to be open to different routes to reaching the goal?

    Many thanks for the replies by the way, it’s great to see a blogger reply to their comments – many times I’m intrigued by an idea but don’t get to learn more about it because the poster doesn’t check their comments!

  7. Warren,

    No, you can be as specific as you want with your goals. Time is fine. The how is fine too. But you need to be open when your choosen path isn’t working. Example, I recently volunteered for a fund raiser. I was in charge of getting the online technology in place, website, donation button, etc. But of course I did’t have access to the bank accounts and copy necessary to get it all running. My plan showed it should have just taken a day of so, but it didn’t, it took weeks. Why, I needed help from other people, and I can’t control when they will be free to work with me. So I still focused on my goal and I reached it, it just didn’t happen the way I had planned. That is a very simple example. Now maybe I failed to plan correctly, but I doubt it, most plans I see are constantly altered to face the changing circumstances as time marches on. The same thing has been happening with Christine’s Books, we had a plan and a timeline, and a location, everything was in place and then circumstances changed just before we pulled the trigger and we’ve found a better place, in a better location, for less. Our timeline slipped and the plan was altered, but so what! We didn’t force what wasn’t meant to be. We took a different path that appears so much better now. Sometimes changes and even failures are blessings if you don’t fight them and instead accept them and adapt. It takes wisdom and patience to know when to accept circumstances and adapt and when to be stubborn and persist. This isn’t black and white.

  8. Many thanks for the detailed reply! I get where you’re coming from now. In particular:

    “It takes wisdom and patience to know when to accept circumstances and adapt and when to be stubborn and persist.”

    This satisfies my understanding of what you say. I definitely think stubborn persistence is my default state!

    Cheers,
    Warren

  9. Steve, just a quick note to say how much I appreciate your perspective here. As you brought out, the cultural pressure can really obscure reality in this area. The last paragraph was especially insightful and I agree 100%. Thanks for this fine article.

  10. you want to act immediately. You strive for constant progress toward your goal, then you run into obstacles… things that are out of your control… like other people who have other plans… but you need them to reach your goal. Then you try to force progress by pushing and prodding and pulling, which only seems to cause others to push back harder. The harder you push, the slower the progress and the higher your frustration. Sometimes you want to quit. Other times you blame others and start to think they are incompetent or lazy. Maybe you eventually give up. You believe you did everything right. If only the other people had “stepped up” everything would have worked. You believe you are a victim of bad breaks, laziness, and difficult people.
    These are the main problems of a Gemini, Take things easy and things would go easy.

  11. Great article, containing some very important truths.

    A value I’d add to your list of acceptance, love and patience is respect. I’ve found in my personal dealings that when you show respect people immediately pick up on it and become more willing to listen to you and your ideas.

  12. It take patience and acceptance that a person can make their dream come true. I think accepting that you have already achieved your goal, can set you apart from the masses in a big way. By already knowing that the goal is your, take the pressure of yourself and just takes step toward success.
    You do this knowing in your mind and heart that you will succeed no matter what!

  13. I am totally hooked to your blog as I get daily affirmation and motivation from it. I am often impulsive with my decisions and it’s good to hear that someone else other than myself also does.

  14. what a wonderful post! forcing yourself to do things that may improve one’s self will not bring any good not only to your self but to other people as well. accept things the way it is and people around you (cause nobody is perfect), love them unconditionally, respect, and wait for the right time (patience is a virtue) to come.

    again thank you for this work and i look forward for more reading… 🙂

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