Friday, December 21, 2007


Many professionals confess that, although their career is moving forward, their time is consumed with or dragged down by unwanted situations, problems, or behaviors. Not overwhelming individually, they have a way of building up until they affect productivity, cause stress, and waste time and energy.

Although you have a handle on your business' operating costs, there may be some hidden expenses that cost you more than money.

You may tolerate business pitfalls -- an incompetent staff, poorly defined goals and strategies, lackluster results, weak relationships, or undesirable customers -- even when they prevent you from enjoying your business the way you envisioned.

So, why do we tolerate these losses?

''I was apprehensive and didn't know how to confront and eliminate certain issues,'' remembers Sean Stredwick, owner of Rockville-based Sanktuary hair salon, music store, and café. ''I simply accepted there were always going to be problems when running a business, especially with personnel. I realize now that by putting up with certain things, I was actually training people that their unacceptable behavior was okay.''

Oddly enough, tolerating imperfections can yield a positive result. Putting up with unwanted situations creates resistance. Similar to striking a match, the friction of two opposing forces generates heat, providing us with energy. It's human nature to get our energy from any available source, even one that causes suffering or difficulties.

However, resistance also justifies a negative attitude and performance. When we tolerate an overbooked schedule or a bad day, it justifies our right to complain, to stress, to underachieve, to stay busy, or to be ''helpless victims.''

This energy charge keeps us busy; often too busy to make necessary changes or decisions. Although putting up with certain things may seem to produce results, they're more costly than we realize. ''I was more apt to tolerate things because it made me feel useful, even though I was letting something happen that I'd rather do without,'' Stredwick claims. "When I understood how these irritations affected me, I noticed the consequences on my business and work environment. Now I confront unwanted situations immediately without feeling guilty. I'm not angry as often because I don't let incidents fester to the point of eruption.''

Having addressed his tolerances, Stredwick reports, ''I make better decisions for myself, which translates into better decisions for the company.''

As you raise your standards and improve your quality of life, you tolerate less. You become unwilling to take on a person or situation that you know will cost more in frustration and time than the resulting profit. ''It's allowed me to become a better leader and a model for my co-workers and others as to what's possible for them,'' Stredwick claims. ''At some point, you just have to trust that your instincts know what's best for you.''

When you stop putting up with the things that hold you back, you begin to notice that your life and career become easier and more fulfilling.

Since we need all the energy we can get, eliminate your allowances with these tips:

List what may be dragging you down.
Search your business, career, environment, home, and relationships for things you no longer want to tolerate.

Analyze your tolerance.
Determine why you put up with certain people, behaviors, and situations. How does tolerating these things actually work for you?

Handle the small irritants first.
Begin by eliminating the least complicated problems, such as a disorganized office or unreliable office equipment. You might be surprised at the change in your attitude and productivity with a functional and reliable copier, for example.

Establish a zero tolerance policy.
Each irritation is going to have some adverse effect until it's either eliminated or you find another way to respond. Create a system to prevent these situations from happening again. For example, set stronger guidelines for the people in your life, informing them what behavior you will not accept. This can be done in a calm and non-threatening, yet firm manner.

Examine your more complex tolerated problems.
Determine what would need to happen to change or eliminate a complex tolerated problem in your life. For example, too much stress, an inadequate salary or training, unsatisfying work, or mediocre job performance. Look at those things which make your job more difficult and think of ways to ease or undo them. Each one can be addressed through conversation and/or action. It's okay if you don't have an immediate solution. Ask yourself: what would need to happen for me to eliminate what I am currently putting up with?

Note: Resolve these situations completely by addressing the source. Otherwise you'll soon find yourself handling the same annoyance in another form. You will know you have eliminated these irritations permanently when they no longer occur to you as a thought, reminder, or feeling.

Once you begin removing these drains from your life, you'll stop wasting time trying to manage situations that shouldn't exist. Investing time to eliminate these trigger points of contention will add greater value to your company and cut out the most costly overhead in your business and career.

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