Personal Foundation: Stop Tolerating

      by Kevin MacDonald
Personal Foundation: Stop Tolerating
By Kevin MacDonald

The sixth piece of the puzzle in our personal foundation journey is the concept of eliminating tolerations.  As human beings we tolerate a lot.  Club Managers tolerate a lot.  So let’s begin by understanding what a toleration is.

A toleration is simply something we’re putting up with.  It may be something small or perhaps something that brings much bigger consequences, but for a number of reasons we decide that it’s not important enough to deal with.  When I say, “we decide”, this is an important point to understand.  We need to see that we have made a choice when we are tolerating something.  We may view a toleration as simply something that we haven’t done anything about but that in itself is a choice.  To have this make more sense let’s think about some examples of things that we might be tolerating.

Maybe we’re tolerating poor performance from one of our employees.  Maybe we’re tolerating the unacceptable behaviour of a board member or any of our members.  Perhaps were tolerating that we haven’t had much balance in our lives lately.  Maybe we’re tolerating the behaviour of a teenager that seems unacceptable.  Some are tolerating expanding waistlines, rising cholesterol levels or blood pressure that is through the roof.  We could be tolerating a squeaky cupboard door.  A tear in a carpet.  Or an area on a wall that needs to be repainted. 

One of the key messages I want you to get from this article is an understanding that any one of these tolerations takes energy.  Some of them may take a little bit of energy away from you and some of them may rob you of hours of energy per day.  Please do not underestimate the amount of energy that is lost when we start to play the toleration game. 

Imagine if you are tolerating any one of the things I’ve mentioned above, and that you’re losing energy.  Now imagine that you’re tolerating 50 things.  If you ever wonder why it is difficult to achieve some of the goals you are trying to accomplish you can start to see how this leaking of energy can be having a big impact.  It’s like drinking a cup of coffee with 50 little pinholes in it.  It can be done, but it’s not nearly as efficient as drinking from an intact mug. 

Sometimes we don’t even know if we are tolerating something.  But it’s certainly interesting to notice what happens after you’ve rid yourself of one of these tolerations.  Sometime during your career I’m sure you’ve experienced what it is like when an employee who is not buying into the program is no longer there.  It is like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders.  And the energy isn’t just gained by you.  It is gained by everyone who was being impacted by that person.  As I said earlier, tolerations have been developed because we have chosen to not deal with them.  We may have chosen not to because the item is low on our priority list or perhaps we are fearful about the consequences that may come up as a result of dealing with them.  Or perhaps we believe that there is nothing we can do about them because they are beyond our control. 

Now that I’ve got you thinking about these tolerations I want to emphasize that they are not right or wrong, they are simply a choice.  And having made that choice we may be avoiding something and we are almost certainly paying a price.  Once you have this awareness it may be easier to make the decision that’s right for you. 

If you have been following this series on building a personal foundation you will know that the fifth lesson was about raising your personal standards.  I can tell you as a coach who has dealt with thousands of people that as you raise your standards and improve the quality of your life you tolerate less.  Conversely those with very low standards are often in a position where they have to tolerate things that would be totally unacceptable to you or I.    As leaders in our organizations I think it’s very prudent for us to become aware of the kinds of things we area tolerating personally and perhaps the things we’re tolerating as an organization.  As I work with managers throughout North America it seems to me that sometimes when it comes to tolerations we can either deal with them or in extreme cases get dealt with.  I think our membership counts on us to eliminate the tolerations in our organizations and I have certainly talked to some managers who were reluctant or unable to do so and who lost their job as a result.  Eliminating tolerations takes courage, but often times the fears we have about the outcomes of dealing with a toleration are much greater than the actual costs involved.  When we start to get rid of tolerations we stop wasting time in our lives managing situations that should not have been there in the first place.  You have more energy to devote to the quality of your life and your personal and professional goals.  You will grow more quickly, you will upgrade your community and you will be a model for friends, family and the organization you lead.

My challenge to you is to start to become aware of the types of things you are tolerating.  And start to understand that these tolerations aren’t good for anyone.  Tolerating a poor employee isn’t good for you, for the organization or for the employee.  If you care about the employee help them find something that they can do with passion.  

What are ten things you’re tolerating at work?

What are ten things you’re tolerating at home?

Start working toward getting rid of these tolerations.

If you’re interested in an exercise that will help you identify things you are tolerating, please contact me or my assistant Alexandra at alexandraamor@shaw.ca 

Kevin MacDonald is the coach for CMAA. You can reach him at kmacdonald@dccnet.com.
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