Deliberately Serene


Read time:  10 minutes


Learning acceptance is a story about evolution in management.

Many project managers will read it and say it is also about them. And they are right since project management is that “sandwich” decision-making layer, squeezed between the two organizational jaws: execution and strategy.

Strategic decision-makers will take high-level decisions at a pace suiting the survival or thriving of the company in the market. In the current fast-changing markets, there is little time or room for explanatory or aligning top-down communication. The strategic level relies on middle or project management to find the most effective implementation solutions. Often, at the strategy level, directors are living the present as if already in the future, dealing agreements with one another about what and how should happen, and moving fastly forward to the next item on their list. 

In doing so, they often forget to tell or do not keep duly informed the middle management on the changes of direction (sometimes significant) or on the new decisions they have taken. 

When hearing the news - often in meetings with other 5-10 peer managers with whom they need to align and coordinate, the middle managers will be confronted by their peers on not delivering on something they didn’t know. Therefore, they will feel vulnerable, betrayed by their functional director who missed letting them know the latest decisions, and left behind or excluded from the table of significant decision-makers. 

In addition, middle managers feel like carrying the burden of implementing something that was not their idea, or they cannot see how it’s connected with the objective they have to deliver.

The first-line managers will also be surprised that something new comes on top of an already extensive to-do list, changing priorities and resource allocation. 

Quite often, when left to their own devices, such situations become endemic and create the bases for a very toxic organizational culture. Middle and first-line managers or coordinators will remain disconnected from a shared vision or a shared meaning and soon will stop thinking there was a legitimate business reason why they were requested to do certain tasks.

Without enough external support to see their input taken into account by the strategic decision-makers, middle managers will start feeling forced to champion the implementation of something for which they have not been consulted, nor see the legitimacy for it.

In this turmoil, human relationships and projects turn into quick-sand pits where first-line and middle managers will do their best to stay “alive” since everyone feels in competition with every other one. 

One word I hear a lot in the stories of middle managers in such conditions is acceptance, usually in connection with their need to accept a certain state of facts. They admit to accepting it. But when I challenge them about how this acceptance feels to them, what comes back is the following statement: I HAVE TO accept this COMPROMISE.

As in "I have to swallow this boiled frog against my will, just to be sure I am safe in this job."


Is Acceptance Just Lip-Service, in Management?

Whoever is “forced to compromise against their will”, will feel resentment towards those who “forced” them to do it. This resentment will be noticed as a reduced speed, a stumble, friction, or a near or actual miss occurring during the completion of the resented tasks. In other words, people “forced to compromise” will act in resistance to the systems they are part of. 

Many middle managers, project managers included, will find themselves in situations where their recommendations or input to the final decision will not be followed by the ultimate strategic decision-makers in the company for various reasons, all legitimate from the strategic vantage point of view.

However, middle managers might not have all data or the entire mental picture to see this reality, given their level of operating is lower - in terms of completeness and accuracy of data to which they have access - than the C-level executives.

Just think of a project manager who sets his project monitoring systems to respond to a contract with fix scope. The project manager notices the client tends to bring in lots of changes. He also sees a tendency of the operating director to accept many of the changes, and he "reads" this just as a sign of goodwill and as proof of the technical capability of the company. He knows something about his director being in some additional commercial negotiations with the respective client for a serious increase in scope, but so far so good it is not his business further.

One month into these negotiations (and 6 months from the beginning of the project) the operating director asks the project manager to adjust the project's monitoring and measuring system to be able to catch all project changes over a certain magnitude. And this is to match the reality of the newly signed contract modification.

At this point, the project manager is highly impacted. He needs now to design a new project monitoring and measuring system in collaboration with many peer functional managers (engineering, quality, accounting, planning, contracts), and also implement it in his project while the project is progressing at full speed. If only would be that easy to agree on something with so many decision-makers peers to you, each one bearing so divergent views.

The project manager realizes he also needs to communicate with all key project people about the intention and objective of the company for doing so, to unite these to abide by the new way of working, to ensure key people are trained and know exactly what, how and when to do in terms of identifying, documenting and progressing the changes. And to make sure the operating director will have the project report every week for discussions with the client.

That is a lot of impact on our project manager and, more than sure, over the entire organization!!! It is not only about when to do this all but when so much communication is needed, with few exceptions managers start second-guessing their ability to sustain it with success.

If the project manager would hold expectations that his director should have consulted him before deciding to sign a new contract, he will feel upset for being skipped from decision-making and feel like his opinion does not count. Instead of seeing the entire contract change campaign as a huge opportunity for the growth of revenue for the company. 

And instead of becoming excited about the opportunity for growth the company has, he will perceive the entire episode as a danger to his career, and the change he was asked to implement, as a meaningless admin chore, a pain in the neck when will have to find solutions with other managers, a huge reason to complain about how decisions are taken in the company. And instead of focusing on the task, he was mandated with, he will consume lots of energy thinking about how easy things were before and how complicated and bureaucratic they became in the meantime.

Middle managers may also find themselves in situations they need to implement unpopular decisions which are not theirs at all. Moreover, they may not have had any contribution to the situation leading to the need for such implementation.

Imagine this department manager. The market situation is far from rosy and, because of some very bleak forecasts, the CEO decides to lay off 25% of the employees. This department manager received the budgeted numbers for lay-off, and now he is expected to produce a list of names of people to let go. This manager worked hard for the last 4 years to build exquisite competence in his department, he knows all his people by name, and he has an excellent relationship with all of them. Now he needs to un-do or dismantle his work, cancelling the results he got in these 4 years. He feels it is a huge injustice and resents the idea he will make families suffer, as well as the idea that he cannot leave his job because he needs now stability for family reasons.

Both these managers say they accepted the decisions imposed on them. Every day they try to carry further the execution of the imposed decisions. But every evening they feel terrible: tired, ruminating about what they should have said and could not, unhappy with the course of actions and the fact that things are not in their sole control, betrayed and not heard by their superiors as not having been at all consulted, worried about the changes in work they will produce to themselves and others,  unsure about their success, not able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

And every morning they wake up exhausted and anxious to carry a new day in the same nightmare. Why nightmare? Didn’t they say they accepted?

Yes, but that was just lip service. In reality, while they were talking about acceptance, they used "acceptance" as an excuse or justification for others to know why they are now doing what they were asked to do but resent

They used acceptance as an emotional cover to numb their conscience and explain to others (only to convince themselves) they are the “good guys” and that it was their manager - the bad guy - who pushed them into acceptance against their will.

They still hold alive their expectations that things should be again the way they used to be before. In reality, that is not anymore possible because the context changed. In the first case, the entire relationship with the client changed and therefore also the framework of rules on which that relationship was based. In the second case, the market changed and the company would have risked way more if not taken this painful decision.


Acceptance Brings Serenity, not Resistance.

Often, even when managers say they accepted and such acceptance is not internalized fully and completely at the level of intention, reaction and action, they will still resent it. In reality, this means they will act in resistance to their environment. 

And some will feel also resentment for feeling resentful. Why: because they may think they are not a good or worthy collaborator if they resent their manager. In other words, they are resenting themselves for being resentful. Funny, isn’t it?

What does acting in resistance mean? This means that instead of using their energy constructively to execute certain tasks, resenting managers will, knowingly or unknowingly, invest their energy in actions of resistance and tacit sabotage of the task, person or circumstance they resent.

Some  actions of resistance can be:

  • Performing mistakes or errors due to a lack of focus or attention
  • Underestimating or overestimating risks
  • Maintenance of a personal mood lacking motivation, and spreading negativity among colleagues too
  • Refraining from delaying communicating critical facts or data to ultimate decision-makers
  • Promising to do something in certain conditions and not maintaining the promise
  • Prioritising other actions first instead of concentrating on the resented tasks
  • Hiding the truth about states of facts or situations
  • Focusing on winning power games with other peer colleagues than focusing on executing tasks at hand
  • Paying attention to not losing face rather than solving problems
  • Acting as a victim of the system or own boss
  • Complaining about how bad things became
  • Being snappy with everyone asking for more details on how that decision was taken

If acceptance would be there in pure form, the manager would be able to not find himself triggered by the situation, to the extent of being able to not manifest those negative emotions that set him into resistance.

Because when accepting a certain reality we let go of any other unrealistic expectations about what and how it could have been for us or our work. And yes, that expectation we cling to it is unrealistic since it is obvious to anyone the circumstances changed. And, with only very few exceptions, we hardly can control these changing circumstances.

Therefore, middle managers need to acknowledge the changed circumstances, connect this change to what is now required from them, and let go of the old and obsolete expectations.

And once this is completely done, managers can acknowledge it is not about an attack on their person, it is beyond their person, and it is external and hard to control. And while seeing this, managers can relax and establish again their calm and own sense of safety. They regain their serenity.


What Acceptance Is Not

Often, the biggest fear of managers is that accepting a higher decision against their will would prove them weak. 

Or that accepting would mean they deserve the “bad thing” that happened to them.

Or that accepting would mean they agree or welcome more of that “negative scenario” or “bad situation”.

Or that accepting would mean forgetting the wrong done against them.

Or that accepting would mean they do not have their ideas on how they would have reacted if given the alternative.

Or that accepting would mean they cannot decide for themselves and because of that a higher rank needed to intervene.

Or that accepting would mean they do not have the knowledge, ability or capability to decide.

Neither of these is acceptance. Because when there is full acceptance, there is nothing left to ruminate about, no regret, no shame, no guilt, no envy, no conflict, and no self-imposed pressure. 


Acceptance is the entrance door to calm and serenity.

And you know how these feel when they are present. Acceptance means:

  • acknowledging the state of facts which cannot in any way be changed by you, 
  • allowing people who are called to have the ultimate decision to make it, 
  • understanding that circumstances changed, 
  • letting go of unrealistic expectations related to your outcomes and achievements in the new circumstances, 
  • evening out the perception of you missing the power of choice or discernment,
  • knowing who you are, and what you can do,
  • needing no external validation to know your value, 
  • knowing what is in your power, what is in your call, what is in your responsibility, what is that you carry in your heart and your mind, 
  • not linking your success to unrealistic expectations or external validation only.

Towards the end, I remind you of one of the sayings most probably the wise elder people in your family use or used to say, too:

[...] Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Time plays a huge role in teaching acceptance. Usually through bringing us again and again, through similar challenging situations. This happens too to managers. The more we resist fully integrating acceptance into our life, the bigger the next challenge life brings our way.

It comes a time we make peace with the definition of acceptance. And it comes a time that we start accepting ourselves with all the good and bad fragments of ours.

Hope you are all ready there.

Performance = Potentially - Interference

And how you define acceptance creates huge emotional interference in how you manage people and projects. But also on how you manage yourself: your intentions, your expectations, your hypothesis, your desires, your emotions, and your ability to move forward.

I am here for whoever wants to review and upgrade their definition of acceptance, and thus reduce the resistance they place in their systems and the friction they create for themselves in their professional and sometimes even personal journeys. 

With my work, I support managers accelerate their evolution towards higher levels of performance and success while learning how to manage their emotional interference and obtain professional and personal success.

Click the reply button, and write me back what would you like to accomplish. 

Until next time, remain safe and sage


Alina Florea

Your High-Performance Coach




With the October onboarding complete, I am currently looking for other 3 people interested to join start November/December the 7-week group coaching program, Master Your Resilience, based on Positive Intelligence© and the PQ App. I invite you to be part of this program. You will learn the basis for intercepting your thinking saboteurs, neutralizing their negative impact, and shifting toward a positive outlook on life with clarity and focus.

Reach out to schedule a discovery call and see how you can benefit most from this program. Or to work out your plan to build your resilience.

If you are already convinced, you can enroll at any time in the program here. Once enrolled, I will follow up with you to set the logistics of starting.

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Until next time, remain safe and sage!




💥🎉 That’s pretty much all for today 💥🎉




  • In management, knowing what is in your control and not, and what you need to accept and when you need to take action and correct the situation, is a sign of clear evolution and maturity.
  • Middle managers, as well as project managers, will always be in a position where they will need to accept others' decisions or opinions either because it is not their call to make that decision, or they have to find ways to already integrate it since the context changed so much.
  • Remaining rigid in expectations disconnected from role, ability and circumstances, creates the conditions for acting in resistance.
  • When acting from accepting, there is no resistance not friction introduced in the system
  • No manager should underestimate how much effort and energy takes to learn acceptance. mastering self-acceptance or acceptance of own circumstances creates the conditions for one to be able to better accept and respect others, and others' work, expectations and desires.
  • Acceptance should not be confused for a series of other things, however, such confusion is spread in management.
  • Managers need to know how their Thinking Saboteurs create the conditions in which, having to accept something, is perceived as a bad circumstance.
  • I invite you to the next 7-week Master Your Resilience group coaching program based on Positive Intelligence which will start Novermber&/December. At this moment I am looking for another 3 people (out of 5) eager to learn the principles and start the practice of intercepting and neutralizing their thinking saboteurs and moving them into clear and focused action. Details on the program can be found here.
  • For my list of members, I offer a limited bonus until the end of the year of 58% from the price list. Write me back in case you want to be part of my list and join the course, and I will revert asap with the discount link.


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