Acceptance Leads To Success

80% of success is showing up. ~ Woody Allen

I’m not really a Woody Allen fan, but I love the above quote. To me, from the perspective of living with intention and authenticity, there are two layers of meaning embedded in “showing up.”

being presentThe first layer of “showing up” is being fully present. That is, in addition to being physically somewhere, be mentally, emotionally and energetically there as well. Think of a time when you were with someone who really made you feel seen and heard. S/he really listened to you and “got” you. That person was fully present with you. Now, consider how often you are that person with others. How often do you truly show up?

As for the second layer, let me propose that “showing up” is literally doing just that, i.e., choosing consciously to be present, even if you’d rather be anywhere else. I bet you’ve had days when, for any number of reasons, showing up was just about all you could manage. You weren’t nearly at your all-time best, but rather the best you could muster for that day, and it had to be good enough. The good news is that, if you allow yourself to see it that way, it was good enough. Because, as human beings, we can’t do better than our best, even if our best fluctuates from one day to another. It’s our ego judgment that says otherwise.

Importance of Self-Acceptance

I’m not advocating complacency, settling for mediocrity, or making excuses for hiding from our full potential. Rather, being good with showing up in whatever condition we can manage at any given point in time is about cultivating non-striving acceptance. To honor the ebb and flow of life, the ups and downs of the human experience, non-striving acceptance is a critical practice. That’s because whatever we don’t accept, we resist. And, resistance to what we don’t want to accept is what ultimately creates pain and suffering. By cultivating non-striving acceptance, we can minimize the suffering we court for ourselves—and often for others, when we hold them accountable for making us feel safe.


When we don’t accept ourselves, we risk being trapped in perpetual judgments of “not good enough.” The rampant lack of self-acceptance is why personal development has been sadly mistaken as endless attempts to fix and improve ourselves in order to feel good enough. Feeling inadequate is a bottomless pit, unless we learn to accept ourselves unconditionally. If you’ve been following my writing for some time, you know that I’m a huge fan of Dr. Robert Holden’s work. He truly opened my eyes to seeing—really seeing—that no amount of self-improvement can ever make up for any lack of self-acceptance.

3 Keys To Cultivating Self-Acceptance

Having said all that, how do we cultivate non-striving self-acceptance? This is clearly an involved topic, but there are basically 3 keys to cultivating self-acceptance:

Key #1: Notice and release judgments. Judgments block acceptance. Practice becoming an inner observer of your self-talk. Pause every so often to pay attention to your inner dialogue. You may hear things like, “Boy, I really suck at this!” or “I’m an idiot!” or “Who do I think I am?” These are indictments from your inner critic, which is greatly threatened by self-acceptance. When you notice these judgments, realize that they are not the truth of who you are, nor do they serve you. Let these untruths go.

Key #2: Befriend your inner wise self. The average person has roughly 60,000 thoughts every day, out of which 95% or more are automatic and subconscious, repeating themselves day in and day out. Moreover, some 80%—or about 45,000 thoughts per day—are negative. That’s why our mind is so flooded with negative judgments tainting our self-perception.

meditateA key practice in cultivating self-acceptance is to create space to listen to our inner wise self regularly. In doing so, we nurture our consciousness to remember that we’re always good enough, even when our actions might fall short of expectations every so often. We don’t equate a desire for higher competency in a skill to a fundamental need to prove our self-worth. Consider beginning your day with meditation and/or journaling. Allow your inner wise self to help you pilot your day consciously—and be good with whatever showing up as your best each day looks like.

Key #3: Be willing to be authentic and real with yourself. I’ve written about this before, and it’s so important that it warrants repeating. It’s critical not to shun what we judge as negative emotions, whether it’s fear, angst, disappointment, etc.

When we stop running away from the emotions we don’t wish to feel, we welcome back the parts/versions of ourselves we’ve inadvertently rejected along with unwanted emotions. We return to wholeness again. We learn to accept and honor that difficult emotions are just the ebb and downs of life, which are every bit as valid as the flow and ups of the human experience. When we’re able to do that, we cultivate unconditional acceptance and love in our consciousness.

Acceptance Leads to Success

From my own experience of cultivating self-acceptance over time, my perspective has continued to soften. As a result, I’ve become more able to accept and honor the objectively trying times in my life as valid parts of my journey. At the same time, I also see others with much wider latitude, having much deeper compassion and understanding for the fact that everyone is simply doing their best with their own journey. And, with all that in perspective, I can more easily just show up and be fully present in my sometimes vulnerable but real and authentic self—even on days when I really just want to hide under the covers.

To close, I definitely concur that a majority of life and success—whether or not it’s as precise as 80% per Woody Allen—is showing up. If we can show up and be fully present even when we don’t feel our absolute best, we are indeed succeeding in living authentically and intentionally. Is there a more successful way to live?

Over to you: What are your thoughts and definition of “showing up”? Does showing up constitute majority of success in life as you see it? Thank you for sharing your insights to enrich this discussion!


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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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Wonderful insights Alice!  

I've learned that whatever we can't accept in ourselves, we won't be able to accept in anyone else either. And vice versa.  

My personal work still revolves around some of the most basic and simple things as you've outlined:

-As soon as I notice i'm no longer present, I do some little things I've learned to help me be more present.  I judge myself far less then I used to when this happens.  Now it's more of a simple, 'I noticed I'm not present.  I am now.' 

-Self-acceptance in a world that bombards us with messages that what we think or feel (especially negative emotions) can still be a challenge at times.  Automatic resistance is what unconsciously happens for me at first.  Then I have to intentionally practice conscious acceptance for 'what is' so resistance loosens it's grip.  I have yet to experience a 'cure all' for these things so I simply practice acceptance moment by moment.  Although sometimes it takes longer then others to 'accept' things! : ) 

I recently wrote this regarding my own personal truth.  It really does apply to the truth of our emotions as well.  Even the negative ones.  

When it comes to helping me accept my truth:

I can try to...

reject it
deny it
suppress it
hide it
ignore it
argue with it
mock it
yell at it
criticize it
put it on a shelf
put it in a box
shut it up
try to snuff it out

And the truth still remains to be what it is.

The truth.

I've learned the truth doesn't ask any of us for permission.

It just IS.


Of course, I don't mean to imply that we want to stay STUCK in a negative emotion.  Yet, if I don't accept it within me and try to deny it or pretend it isn't there, I remain caught in resistance to it.  Instead of acknowledgement, acceptance that it present within me, and granting the energy safe passage to move through me so that it isn't blocked or stuck. 

Along with attempting to figure out the message of what it's trying to tell me so I can take specific action on it.  

Thanks again for sharing Alice.  Great post!


Another wonderful post, Alice! If we follow the steps outlined in your post, we begin to see patterns. The patterns maybe what we need to release, lean into, or grab ahold of and boldly move forward. It is recognition, acceptance, and appropriate action that will lead to greater success (however we may define that!). Thanks! Jon


This is truly inspirational. I like the idea of accepting your inner wise self. Oftentimes we don't appreciate or acknowledge our inner strengths and we tend to dwell on the negatives. It's important to identify the positives about who we are and put them in perspective. I like the idea of self acceptance in paving the way to success. When you are at peace with who you are, you will be more open to improvement and change. Thanks for the beautiful post.


What an inspirational post, Alice! I especially connected with befriending your inner wise self. We don't take the time to listen and connect with who we are. It is a healthy way to think about our dreams and true feelings. Thanks for sharing! 


Alice, this is a great post but one line in particularly really stands out. "No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance." Completely true and very powerful!

Being present is the key to life. Life happens in the moment, every moment. If we are in resistance to the moment, not accepting any aspect of it or ourselves, we miss life and all the gifts it has for us. When I feel stress arise in me I repeat a simple mantra, "I am here now." Within minutes the stress level reduces and I begin to see both what is being offered and what I can do with whatever is present. 


This is an excellent follow-up to a tweetchat I led yesterday #EnergyOfyes, on the power of Showing-Up Fully Present.  And Self-Acceptance is monumental in being authentically WHO YOU ARE!  Loving your post.

Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas

Hi Alice,

This was a wonderful post and I could really resonate with what you wrote.

On the issue of self-acceptance, I can't emphasise enough, how important this is. I have direct experience of this through my background with stammering. When I was young I used to resist, reject and could not accept that I stammered. This just added to the pain and suffering I experienced. I then got into self-development. Sure, I worked on my confidence and my self-esteem rose. However, I still had to work on self-acceptance, and accept and appreciate that, yes I do stammer, and this is a part of me. By doing this, I was able to experience greater amounts of peace.

I loved what you wrote about accepting ourselves just the way we are, when we show up. I believe we can be too hard on ourselves at times, when we're not always at our best, like there is something wrong with us. Nothing can be further from the truth. As you said in your post, we will always be good enough and are doing the best we can in that particular moment.

Thank you.

DrAliceChan moderator

@Samantha_S_Hall Many thanks for your deep, detailed and thoughtful comment, Samantha! Greatly appreciate your share. Yes, whatever we don't accept in ourselves, we can accept in others. That's why when we feel triggered by other's behavior, it's a sure indicator that there are shadows within ourselves we haven't owned. As for the "cure all" point, I've come to believe that it's an integral part of the human experience to practice moment-to-moment, day-to-day consciousness for as long as we live. It gets easier to return to the present moment, but being conscious and acting consciously isn't an automatic thing. Thank you very much again for your thoughtful addition to this conversation, Samantha!

DrAliceChan moderator

@ThinDifference Great synthesis, Jon! And, yes, success is however we'd like to define it. Over time, we've talked about the importance of love, including your book recommendation about love being a verb. One of my favorite sayings about success is from Dr. Robert Holden, "If your definition of success does not include some measure of love, get a different one." Thank you for joining the conversation, Jon!

DrAliceChan moderator

@tsihly Thank you for joining this conversation! For survival reasons, our brain has a negativity bias to get us to fight or flight. Therefore, it's important to have consciousness-raising practices to help us take stock of the positives and, most importantly, that we're very much good enough no matter what. Our circumstances, skills and aptitude don't mar our inherent worth and goodness. As human beings, it's healthy to want to grow and evolve, but never from the belief that we are not good enough unless we improve and change. That's what self-acceptance is about. Many thanks again for adding your comments; much appreciated!

DrAliceChan moderator

@TerriKlass Many thanks for your comment, Terri! Yes, in our modern society, we don't value the woo-woo of connecting to our true selves nearly as much as we could, as the benefits are so far reaching in how we show up in our personal and professional lives. Thank you for joining the conversation with your observation, Terri.

DrAliceChan moderator

@jaqstone Many thanks, Jacqueline, for adding your voice of consciousness, which I always appreciate. Love your mantra of "I am here now" to ground you in the present moment, instead of worrying about what may or may not come to past or lamenting what could have been done differently. Thank you very much for adding this critical point about being in the moment to what it means to accept ourselves and show up as we are!

DrAliceChan moderator

@AliRodriguez Welcome, Ali! Thank you so much for your comment. Love it when synchronicity strikes and conversations about the same thing is happening simultaneously because we're all connected by the same source of universal energy. I'm sure your #Energyofyes tweetchat was inspiring! Yes, indeed, self-acceptance is indispensable if we are to be who we really are authentically. Thanks again!

DrAliceChan moderator

@Hiten Vyas Thank you so much for your very thoughtful comment, Hiten! You provided an excellent example from your own personal experience of the importance of self-acceptance. I'm sure you're inspiring lots of people around the world with your story and your commitment to honoring yourself through stammering, knowing that you're whole and complete--and always, always very much good enough. Thank you again, Hiten!

DrAliceChan moderator

@AliRodriguez  Huge fan of synchronicity here, too, Ali! Looking forward to more! Have a wonderful day!

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