It was November 25,1980, the fight was scheduled for 15 rounds but toward the end of the eighth round, the boxer turned to the referee and said “No Mas” (no more) and the fight was over. Sugar Ray Leonard was the World Welterweight Champion and Roberto Duran became “the quitter.”
“No mas!” We’ve all felt like this or been through times when we were overwhelmed by life’s demands. We fight to make sense of things and struggle to do the best we can. You don’t really want to quit. But sometimes you must stop fighting the current and just go with the flow. Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands. This doesn’t mean resignation or defeat, it means that we accept the reality that “we” can’t control everything or anyone. We realize that things are just what they are. In the Book of Joy (2016), the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu conclude their discussion on the four qualities of the mind by saying, “acceptance is the opposite of resignation and defeat.” They state:
“Once we can see life in its wider perspective, once we are able to see our role in its drama with some degree of humility, and once we are able to laugh at ourselves, we then come to the fourth and final quality of the mind, which is the ability to accept our life in all its pain, imperfection, and beauty.”
It may seem counter-intuitive, but acceptance frees us from stress and worry. Acceptance opens us to the counsel, guidance, and assistance of others. Acceptance leads us to the creativity and innovation we sometimes lose due to our hubris and stubbornness, often the result of a lack of humility.
Leaders assume a broader perspective to focus on the vision, demonstrate humility when they remain open to the thoughts, comments, and corrections of others, continually provide motivation through humor, recognition, etc., and ultimately accept the outcomes or results. We aren’t guaranteed the results or outcomes we desire or happy endings, but as Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (Harvard Business Review, 2021) said, we (leaders) must:
“Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.”
As leaders, the balance within the four qualities of the mind (perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance) is delicate and can be difficult. No one is immune to suffering or feeling overwhelmed, not even Jesus, but there is also no better model of acceptance. In Matthew 26:36-39, Jesus tells Peter and Simon “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” He falls to the ground and prays: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus did what many leaders, and most of us often, fail to do. He didn’t just throw his hands up; He turned it over and accepted God’s will. “Jesus showed us how to accept God’s will even when it clashes with our human desires (GotQuestions.com).”
Acceptance may seem easy, but it goes against our nature. We are hard-wired by nature with a “fight or flight” response. Even prehistoric man understood, if you give up and freeze when the saber-toothed tiger attacks, you’re breakfast. We are taught don’t give up, keep on fighting and, just like any other skill, we have to learn “acceptance”. Author Nataly Kogan, states:
“Acceptance is a leadership skill. Acceptance doesn’t mean you like what happens. It means you see what happens with clarity instead judgment and use that as your starting point.”
I must confess that I’m not even close to mastering this skill. I struggle with feelings telling me that this seems such a passive approach. I mean if you don’t study for your final exams; you can throw up your hands and pray; but you shouldn’t expect God to take your finals. But in writing this article, I read the word of author and blogger, Desemond Mbantoh (November, 2021). He explains:
“As Christians, we need to understand that accepting God’s will is not passive resignation. Accepting His will is active; it is often the result of a process of contending with God, wrestling it out in prayer, repenting, fasting, and finally surrendering to His higher purposes for our existence.”
Challenge: Like me, I think many of us struggle not because of our situation or problem. We struggle with our “perspective.” The next time you want to yell “No Mas,” go to the Father. Pray, listen to His voice, and then accept His will. Remember, even Jesus struggled. He may not have liked the answer, but He accepted God’s will. Aren’t you glad He did?