I write today on a personal note reflecting on the powerful word “acceptance.” Like many if not most of you know, I am a polio survivor who was 13 months of age when that virus invaded my body. I was one of the lucky ones; only my left leg bears witness to the after effects of its assault. But, in the aftermath of polio, I became a pianist, a husband, father, minister, and now advisor.
What a blessed life I have had.
Long before I knew I was learning, my parents were teaching me that life tosses us challenges we cannot change. As an adult, having worked with many men and women struggling with addiction, I learned “The Serenity Prayer” that even to this day I pray often.
“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Recently, I commended that prayer to a client who confessed to me he was having trouble sleeping brought on by stress. He thanked me and said he would etch those words in his memory.
There are so many facets of our work that are out of our control.
The ever-changing business environment, political turmoil, client crises of all varieties, issues that pop up unexpectedly in our personal lives, all seem to conspire to keep us from being our best selves. Tempted are we—and often seduced—by the easy way of whining, sitting in a puddle of pity, or carping about the unfairness of life. All to no avail with whatever “it” is still staring us in the face.
So, I commend this wonderful word to you today. When clients come to you with personal, financial, even relational stressors, listen with compassionate care until you have space to ask, “How are you accepting this change in your life?” And then listen even more, with greater compassion and surprising love. If you can go there, clients will tell you so much more about themselves and those things that keep them up at night. Such revelations part the curtain of fear and show them—far more than telling them—that you will always be there for them and those they love.
In accepting, find remarkable peace.
In the last year, one of our senior clients watched his wife of more than 60 years lose her battle with life. There was no cancer or heart disease, but a slow withering of vitality that eventually robbed her of heart and breath and life. When I asked him some three months before she died how he and they were doing, he said with great courage, “Maggie and I have learned to accept the things in life we cannot change.” I said nothing, and he kept talking. “In the accepting, we have found remarkable peace.”
Acceptance is such a powerful, transformative word both for us and those we serve. Purposeful and more mindful still are human beings and especially advisors who learn to accept the things we cannot change, find the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. May it be so for you and those you serve.