What Are You Tolerating?


This is the “finger in the rib” question. If you put your index finger on your rib and apply light pressure, most people feel irritated, but still are able to carry on. Over time, you may even start accepting the annoyance as “normal” and a part of what you signed up for when you took this position.

Our self-talk includes phrases like, “well, nothing’s perfect,” or “I have bigger battles to fight.”  Both of which may be true.  Over time, however, the finger in the rib becomes distracting and may even create a bruise. Ultimately, it siphons precious energy from higher value initiatives.

Some examples of tolerated annoyances include things like:

  • My calendar is out of control. I have no time to think.
  • I wish she’d stop looking at her phone when I’m meeting with her.
  • My desk looks like a hurricane swept through the office.
  • Meetings never start (or stop) on time around here.
  • I never know if he’s doing email in meetings or typing up notes. Either way, it’s distracting.
  • I’ve had it with the burnt popcorn (or salmon) smell from the kitchen. [had to add this one]

Again, none of these are earth-shattering problems, per se, but over time, they add up. Pretty soon, you begin to wonder if DrSeussQuoteNothingChangeUnlessDoSomethingyour rib might need an x-ray.

Clearing the decks of all that you’re tolerating will free up time and energy for more important strategic matters. Ideas to consider:

  • Pick one thing you are tolerating and take an incremental step each day to resolve it. For instance, if your desk is covered with detritus, devote 10 minutes each morning to filing, discarding or taking an action to delegate what needs resolution. This is how momentum begins.
  • If you’re tolerating annoying behavior from someone, schedule a conversation with the person this week to discuss it. Key here is focusing on the behavior and how it affects you (and/or their performance). If this idea is completely intimidating to you, role-play with another person (or in front of a mirror) until it becomes second nature.
  • Calendar out of control? Take ownership of your time by blocking out the meetings you want to hold sacred (for example, your bi-weekly staff meetings, one-on-one meetings with direct reports, planning time, etc.). Then schedule time for yourself to work on deliverables that you are uniquely suited to handle; delegate the rest.

If you have the luxury of a resource to help manage your calendar, take full advantage! Work out with your administrator how to manage requests for your time.  Meet regularly to fine-tune your preferences.

Identifying what you are tolerating and taking small steps to remove the finger from the rib, frees you to redirect your energy and value to inspire change and lead confidently.

Share This Post:

Speak Your Mind


4 × 1 =