Every single place you will go this week will be a place where you are putting up with something. We all tolerate things that annoy us, some that prick our Shiny Ideal World Bubble quite sharply, others that just leave it mud-smeared. Without being an obsessive control freak, a great leader does find a way to identify and eliminate tolerations. This is one of the leader’s greatest contributions to the people she or he leads.
As the President of a small corporation when in my 20’s, I didn’t yet realize that stepping over any toleration in my company was a bad idea. I thought I should usually give an employee a break, accept a late payment from a customer, or put up with a vendor showing up the wrong day with a delivery.
I thought that insistently not putting up with stuff equated with being a rigid disciplinarian. Being a disciplinarian is not a strength of mine—it’s not in my bag of tricks at all. I had a brainiac poodle once that everyone asked me about: “Wow, how did you train her to do that?” I answered honestly that she had trained herself. On the other hand, she knew what I would and would not put up with. The only discipline I needed was for myself—to consistently not tolerate what I considered being over the line.
Make a list of what you have been tolerating at work, including situations, people, behaviors, yourself, something in the environment, outdated technology, missing tools, meager profits, undue pressure, restrictions, stress, or general morale. Just calling these out will help you feel more in control and like you have a choice about what to do next.
Then make a list of tolerations you’ve been putting up with at home or anywhere outside of work. It could be something big—you suspect your teen is drinking and driving. Or it may be something seemingly small but SO annoying—at least once a week you forget and reach for your favorite shirt to put on, then realize you haven’t replaced the missing button yet, and pass it over for another one. Not only is this irritating over and over, it’s such a waste of time. Not handling tolerations costs you time, money, health, relationships, peace, bandwidth for creativity, and anything that you think is important to you. Tolerations are very expensive.
Start with anything on either list; probably a smaller, easier one would be a smart choice. Take care of it. Handle it so completely that it is almost impossible for it to raise its taunting face again. Get support including using delegation when possible.
Promised benefits of eliminating stuff you’ve been putting up with include: you will have more energy, less friction in life, you’ll easily have stronger boundaries, higher standards—and the people around you will start to enjoy all of these benefits as well.