I moved into my house 7 months ago. There’s a doorstop the previous owners placed by the garage door that every time I walk by it, it annoys me. It’s not a big deal. It’s just that I get a momentary flinch of “ugh ick” every time I walk by it. And then it’s gone, I forget, and I leave it there and go about my business. Only to repeat the cycle the next time I see it. This is a silly example, but it has energetic impact.
Last night, leaving to take my kids out, I had the flinch… I stopped, picked it up, and put it in a drawer. Done. In 7 months I had not even thought to put it away. (That’s how sneaky tolerations can be.) This morning heading out for a run, I walked out that door, not a thought or ounce of energy on it. Just flow. Bamm.
My friend’s friend is chronically late to their meet ups. My friend navigates whatever hoops necessary to get out for the evening and shows up on time… to wait. She never says anything, but rather tolerates as her girlfriend continues to be late again and again.
A client of mine was tolerating low output and productivity in team meetings, inappropriate jokes, and his team’s casual relationship with time.
Unsharpened pencils, “dead” pens, messy environments, gossip, complaining, dead plants, rude co-workers, chronically late colleagues, being out of shape, eating crappy food, watching too much TV, listening to things you don’t want to listen to, sleeping badly, dirty dishes, that piece of furniture you can’t stand, saying YES to everything (and then feeling burnt out and resentful), not speaking up… these are all tolerations.
We often don’t realize how much our tolerations impact our energy. But they do. And the cost is significant.
Anything that impacts our energy affects our mental bandwidth, our presence, our leadership, our joy, and basically how we show up in the world*. Period.
So what are you tolerating?
Fortunately, elimination is always in some way, shape, or form in your control. It starts with awareness, seeing how you might be contributing to it, and then taking action or making requests to set it right.
Here are 5 common tolerations you can begin to eliminate now.
Environment. You have things in your environment that are not serving you. Every time you look at them your heart sinks or you feel a jab of irritation; your office, desktop, home, pantry, closet, car, calendar… look. Put your attention here: “Does this ‘thing’ contribute to my joy and life force or detract from it?” Anything that feels subpar—fix it. For those environments you don’t have full control over (i.e. office space, hotel room, or even your calendar), how can you make it better? Bring in flowers or pictures, create a personal travel pack with stuff you love, chunk your calendar down into categories of time…
Time. Time is a slippery slope. It’s easy to tolerate wasted time, no time, and tardiness. This is something people don’t even realize they’re tolerating; they only feel the “ick”. Put your attention on time. Are you using it the way you want to? Do you have enough “me time”? Are you late everywhere you go? Are people late for you? Make a change. Make a request. Bring your time back to present time and make it work for you.
Integrity. Or more so, lack of integrity. Not speaking up, back channeling, little lies that keep things going, dishonoring core values, flat out doing something you know is wrong but continue to do for whatever reason. This is another one people often miss awareness on and don’t associate as a toleration. Take a look. Clean it up, get curious, name gaps, make requests, set it right.
Self-Care. Or more so, lack of it. Feeling tired? Resentful of all the demands on your time? Out of shape? Are you carrying more weight than you’d really like to? Where are you tolerating not taking care of yourself? Where do you put yourself last on your priority list for self-care, saying “no”, taking personal time, getting sleep, etc.? This is a big one. Check it out. Little shifts make a big difference. Delightfully, shifts in self-care also impact other tolerations and energy drains as the better your self-care, the clearer your awareness and ability to create change where it most counts.
People. Are you tolerating people in your life who are late, make you feel bad, gossip a lot, bring the vibe down in the room, don’t perform on your team, or are just flat out mean? Are you tolerating someone on your team who really would be better suited in another position or company? Are you tolerating not giving that person feedback and having an honest conversation with them (again, see how tolerations come back to us?) Notice where you tolerate behavior or dynamics that aren’t healthy, and dive in. Awareness, noticing how you’re contributing to it, requests, and action work well here.
No matter which of these resonate for you—you are in control here. Make a list of 10 things you’re currently tolerating, start the change for at least 5 of them today, clear your field, and bring your very best.
Have a great week!
*For more on tolerations and clearing your field, check out Contagious Culture: Show Up, Set the Tone, and Intentionally Create an Organization that Thrives.
This article originally appeared on Inc.com on January 18, 2016.
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