Thomas J. Leonard was one of the inventors of personal coaching in the 1980s. Five years ago I stumbled upon his book The Portable Coach. Hidden in the middle of the book is a simple lesson that has transformed my life:

Remove all your tolerations.

Tolerations are the minor annoyances in life that aren't pervasive or annoying enough to drive us to action, yet subtly weigh on us day after day. The weight of a single toleration is almost imperceptible, but as you continue through life, tolerations accumulate. Bearing enough tolerations will eventually slow you down and clutter your mind.

Today you are going to commit to removing all of your tolerations. The annoying broken zipper on your bag, the blind that doesn't quite close, the fact you always run out of pens or that you never have a spare key when you need it: It's time to get rid of them all and in the process find mental clarity.

  1. Make a list of all your tolerations.
    Mentally walk through your day-to-day and make a list of all the minor annoyances that you encounter. Things you run out of or run into--write them all down.
  2. Commit $150 and one afternoon to addressing them.
    This is an important step because tolerations are, by definition, never deemed important enough to make it to the top of your to-do list. Even if each toleration seems trivial, remember that you are addressing the cumulative impact that they have on your life. Schedule this afternoon in your calendar on high priority, and fix them all.
  3. Solve the root of the problem.
    Go beyond one-off solutions by asking yourself, "Is there anything I can do so that I never have to deal with this problem again?" For example, don't just catch up on paying your bills, register for automatic payments.

As an entrepreneur, you need the mental space to think clearly and to adjust, expand, and push your thinking. Tolerations quietly inhibit our mental and personal growth by keeping us in behavioral holding patterns. Challenge yourself today by removing all of your tolerations. A Sunday afternoon and $150 may just lead to your next breakthrough idea.

Published on: Sep 30, 2014
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