Leadership Acceptance: Letting Go Of The Controls

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In Chuck Yeager’s book The Right Stuff, he describes a time in the 1950’s when an elite group of US Air Force pilots set out to fly at altitudes beyond anything that had ever been attempted before.

As they left the familiar dense atmosphere of Earth, they found that everything they knew about aerodynamics no longer applied.

Nothing they could do would keep their planes under control. By the time Yeager took off, several had already died in the attempt.

Yeager seemed headed for the same fate, with his plane violently out of control—so much that he was knocked unconscious in the cabin.

By the time he came to, the plane had reentered the atmosphere and he was able to regain control and land safely.

When we find ourselves in crisis, we work hard to maintain control. Sometimes the best thing is to let go of the controls and just accept.

Here is what acceptance really is:

Acceptance is not passivity. Acceptance does not mean that we are passive to our situation, but that we see it clearly and honestly accept it. Acceptance means freeing ourselves to get what we need.

Acceptance is not detachment. Acceptance is letting go, allowing what needs to be to be. It doesn’t mean we are detached.

Acceptance is not inaction. When we accept, we aren’t defining ourselves by inaction, but realizing that sometimes we just have to surrender to the moment.

Acceptance is not powerlessness. To accept means  we allow ourselves to pause rather than rush to a compulsion to react.

Acceptance is not about passivity, detachment, inaction, or being powerless.

Acceptance is about breaking down habitual ways of reacting.

There can be something so liberating by simply accepting rather than having to always control everything.

Lead From Within: When we are accepting rather than resisting we open ourselves to profound new possibilities.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Panteli Tritchew

    22. Jul, 2014

    “Sometimes the best thing is to let go of the controls and just accept.” This is something that many of us, especially when we are in leadership “positions” find hard to do. The word “position” means to put in a particular place, or to strike a particular pose-it is rooted in control, and control at some level implies rigidity.

    When we let go and are able to be (as you say) “breaking down habitual ways of reacting,” we show that we are not afraid of what is happening and who we are within that happening. Letting go is an aspect of courage. Agree deeply with you Lolly-letting go is liberating!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      22. Jul, 2014

      Acceptance Panteli Is not easy. Leading is not easy. Living is not easy. And sometimes in those circumstances to let go and accept.

      Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      22. Jul, 2014

      Have I told you Panteli that your thoughts always feed my soul? If not.. I am telling you now.

      Reply to this comment
      • Panteli Tritchew

        22. Jul, 2014

        Thank you so much, Lolly. I love your work and the community it builds! It has helped me grow immensely.

        Reply to this comment
  2. LaRae Quy

    22. Jul, 2014

    Great points about acceptance, Lolly.

    I’ve always connected acceptance with flexible thinking. If we’re not hard-headed and strong-willed, we can step back and look at obstacles in a different light. I call that mental toughness, but essentially it’s the ability to recognize when I’m wrong and then change course.

    Ego is the culprit, and usually tends to bow it’s head and insist that we are right!

    Thanks for another thought-provoking post…

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      22. Jul, 2014

      Acceptance for me goes beyond the thought or thinking.

      For me its almost a full body experience.

      Mind. Heart. Soul. Body.

      To accept is to truly let go of everything. When we given in to what it is and we allow what has to be – to come.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Terri Klass

    22. Jul, 2014

    Terrific post, Lolly!

    Leadership acceptance also means recognizing that other people on our teams and work environments need to sometimes take take the lead when they are more qualified. By empowering others to take charge we might be giving up a leading position but gaining great strategy and experience from others.

    Thanks for another insightful read!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Garren

    22. Jul, 2014

    aloha Lolly…

    I appreciate this post because it goes beyond
    the role of leadership and into the realm of life.

    Recently…like others

    I’ve been tossed in the face of acceptance
    through external circumstances and
    internal…subconscious habits of response.

    I found it takes courage to let go into
    those moments as Panteli referenced.
    I’m not sure but perhaps resting abiding
    with ease in those moments is liberation.

    curious to hear your thoughts.

    thanks again…hope you’re having
    a great day!

    Reply to this comment
  5. lollydaskal

    22. Jul, 2014


    First of all its great to see you hear! I always enjoy your thoughts

    Secondly: We lead in our lives and our in our lives we lead – there is no separation.

    Thirdly: Sometimes acceptance takes courage, sometimes its about not having a choice, sometimes it takes fear.

    Whatever it is, whatever gets us there, when we get there, how we sit with it will make the biggest difference.

    Acceptance = surrender!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Craig

    25. Jul, 2014

    A thoughtful and respected leader always looks before they leap. That action includes your response to many difficult situations. When you don’t react to situations that don’t require your immediate response, especially when it can be hostile, you have much better chance of resolution through the process of acceptance. Thanks for Sharing.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Ajay Kumar Gupta

    27. Jul, 2014

    Dear Lolly,

    A very good post indeed. I agree that acceptance and resistance makes all the difference in individual journey. When we tend to accept our limitation and challenge, then we break the boundary. We only see our mission. It is the situation when we do not have ego. Individual having this habit has potential to become leader. When we resist, we show our ego. We do not want to learn. We want to define world, the way we see it. That is the major obstacle people do not learn. This attitude makes the individual manipulator.
    I strongly believe that acceptance is the sign of courage and resistance is the sign of weakness. One who has courage is a leader.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Dawood Chishti

    27. Jul, 2014

    Acceptance is about knowing our limitations, stepping aside for watch and Leting others to lead. An inspiring concept though taking a great deal of courage and patience.
    It’s a lively message of yours.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Nanci Besser

    28. Jul, 2014

    Hi Lolly, I loved this piece. It spoke to me on many levels. It is only upon accepting that we become open to receiving possibilities beyond specificity. Acceptance allows us to create space for maximal outcomes, not just the one we were invested in manifesting. Thank you for sharing such an insightful post.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Frederic Theismann

    30. Jul, 2014

    Thank you Lolly.
    IIndeed, acceptance is an ACTIVE attitude.
    Sometimes I ask my clients : “What’s the benefits of not accepting the situation/the problem/… ?” or “Why not accepting ?”
    They often come with “I want to change. If I accept, it means I approve it, and I can’t do so. It’s not acceptable” .
    They keep fighting against what they don’t want to accept, maintaining the problem.
    Acceptance is part of martial art attitude. Use the energy in the situation to do the next step.
    Thanks again.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Junriz Abuyabor

    31. Jul, 2014

    Hi Lolly,

    Informative post. Thanks!
    I remember John Maxwell’s book on Leadership where a Leader should also be Realistic. That is to consider in his decisions the acceptance of reality and the facts in the now.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Emily Axelrod

    01. Aug, 2014

    This post reminds me of the
    voice of a wise client who when going through a change project said heart-feltfully this is a true test in letting-go for me and to accept how my employees want to work together instead of how I think they should.
    This was a process for him and it took a lot of courage.
    It opened many doors for him and his employees.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Lolita Bostick

    03. Aug, 2014

    Hi Lolly.
    Acceptance for me has helped me open up vast possibilities in my small family circumstance .. to the greater dynamic of a organization that I belong to. It has been very liberating to let go of what I think others need to see think and do especially myself and embrace the freedom of giving more faith tolerance respect gratitude and most of all appreciation. I feel greater joy Thanks for all that you Do!

    Reply to this comment
  14. Rehan Uddin

    05. Aug, 2014

    My sincere thanks to your post.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Courage Christson Tetteh

    20. Jul, 2015

    I am indeed blessed by this post Lolly. It is very timely as am currently beating myself up for situations certainly have no control over.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Al Aali

    28. Oct, 2015

    Thanks a lot ,,,after reading the post, I think
    “Acceptance is a sort of control”
    What do you think Lolly?

    Reply to this comment
  17. Dan Oestreich

    03. Dec, 2015

    Hi Lolly

    As always, this is a wonderful post.

    Your words remind me of that famous statement by psychologist, Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

    Perhaps self-acceptance is the hardest form of acceptance there is.

    All the best

    Reply to this comment
  18. Gregory

    26. Dec, 2015

    Thank you Lolly. That was some very good literature. Something I needed to hear. And said in a way that that I can use it to grow. Instead of rejecting it as quitter talk. Thank you. Your posts have helped and are helping me to evolve as a person and a worker. Thanks again.

    Reply to this comment
  19. Syed Shahbaz Ali

    16. May, 2016

    Greetings Lolly,

    Acceptance = Surrender

    I have heard somewhere “Things goes beyond our control doesn’t always mean we are weak sometimes it means we are strong enough to let it go.”

    We must accept as it comes in the pursuit of greater good, no matter how we are going to survive, or behave or react to it what matters most is the strength lies within us. ‘A Lead From Within- Encouraging’.

    Reply to this comment

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