Acceptance vs. Apathy

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    I want to follow up Janae’s posting on employee engagement with this quote from a colleague Dr. Joan Marques, Founder/President at Academy for Spirituality and Professional Excellence (ASPEX). “There’s a difference between apathy and acceptance. Apathy lets you endure life. Acceptance helps you enjoy it.”

    How many times have you seen co-workers drudge through their day just trying to get to 5:00 or the weekend? The idea of engagement that Janae wrote about includes having energy to do your work and feeling a sense of joy or passion for what you do. Sometimes that’s hard to muster when you have a lot of little ankle-biter tasks stacking your desk. It’s easy on those days to just keep your head low and plow through your stack until you see some light of day.

    Whether you face your mundane tasks with a sense of apathy or acceptance is yours to decide. As I wrote a couple weeks ago, Choose Your Attitude. Feeling apathetic about your work, as if you are slugging through mud, can actually be draining, emotionally and mentally. Rather than fighting, struggling or dreading what’s on your desk, find ways that you can shift perspective and remain open to what the Universe is asking of you at this time. Perhaps you can even invite with joy and anticipation something fun to come from it – a new opportunity, learning, or connection to others while doing your tasks.

    Acceptance means welcoming, greeting, what is yours to do. Acceptance is embracing what is yours to do with as much spirit of service and contribution to a greater good that you can feel. You have to get the task done anyway, why not find something enjoyable in doing it!

    Here’s a related story I heard some years ago. One day a group of mountain climbers were working their way up a steep cliff. One of the climbers lost his grip and slid down the side until he caught hold of a small outcrop of rock. In the rock slide his left eye contact fell out and he felt a bit dizzy and disorientated only able to see clearly from one eye.

    His buddies below called up to him to hold tight until one of them could climb up to bring him down. The climber called down that he lost his contact and could they look for it below to bring up when they came to get him. Otherwise, he’d have a hard time making his way back down.

    His friends frantically scoured the ground below thinking it was probably futile looking for the contact. Even if they did find it most likely it would be broken or scratched and useless to their friend. To their surprise after 10 mins. of looking, one friend saw a small bright gleam of light and bent down to see the contact laying on an ant. He grabbed the contact, wrapped it up and put it in his pocket to go get his friend.

    Meanwhile, the little ant was relieved to have the giant piece of glass taken from its back. The ant was almost baked in the heat of the sun through the glass. After the man took the contact off his back the little ant cried, ‘Lord, I don’t know what you put on my back or why you had me carry it across these rocks, but I’m glad I could serve you in this way today’

    You never know the meaning or purpose of the load you carry. I invite you to accept what is yours to do with the humility and grace of the ant, knowing that there may be a purpose to your small daily tasks much bigger than you can see.

    Feel free to share here any stories that you’ve heard or experiences you’ve had where you’ve been able to accept something that was yours to do or where you shifted from being apathetic to finding meaning in what you were doing.

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.

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    Linda J. Ferguson is a job coach, inspiring speaker and author – www.lindajferguson.com