Be Your Best

You Get What You Tolerate

by on Jun.23, 2016, under Blog Posts

I recently was listening to an interview of a very successful business person who was asked what one of their most important learnings was that they live and work by.  They said that it is “you get what you tolerate”.  I had not heard this phrase before and was intrigued by it.  And when I learned more and thought more about what it truly means, I agree that is a critical thought process on the way to success and something to put into the daily reminder process.

Here is what the general concept is saying:  if you tolerate lateness or mediocre or half-done in your life or your work from yourself or others around you, that is what you will get for the most part.  People and things usually adjust to your threshold of tolerance.  And then over time, it becomes your ‘normal’.  Another angle on this is the conditions you are willing to tolerate on the way to success.  Obviously pretty much all successful people are hard workers.  Super successful people are really hard workers.  Hard working also means smart working, but in general, through all the reading I have done, ‘ultra’ successful people (in business, in sports, in education, in the arts, etc…) work really really hard, and ‘tolerate’ some very difficult working conditions and hours.  Take Olympic athletes — yes, these people are very talented — but if you were to watch them over time as to what they ‘tolerate’ on a daily basis for their living and training regiment, for years and years, it is no wonder they are so successful.

Jim Rohn, one of my favorite success coaches says – “if you see an ultra successful person and wonder why they are so successful, just spend a day with them and you will clearly see why they are so successful.  They do A LOT of things in that one day.”  This is another variation on ‘they get what they tolerate’.  They tolerate massive, tireless, non-stop action and implementation.  Again, it is not so much about naturally gifted talent, but more about the ability to tolerate a regiment of consistent daily action that many are just not willing to do.

Another word that can interchange with ‘tolerate’ is ‘expect’.  But I like this ‘tolerate’ variation because it really speaks to the challenge of a regimented consistent daily action and implementation.  It speaks to the concept of repeated “practice” on the way to Mastery of any given thing — that old reference that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master whatever it is that you want to become a master at.

Deciding what your Tolerance ‘to Tolerance’ Really is

But there is also another subtle aspect of success by applying the ‘getting what you tolerate’ concept.  That is mentally drawing lines in the sand was to what you decide that you will tolerate and not tolerate, and applying that to your personality and personal routine.  This is difficult, because making decisions that you will simply not tolerate ________________ any longer will potentially upset or frustrate or offend some people.  You don’t even have to be mean or nasty about it, but deciding that you will not tolerate certain behavior, certain results, certain actions, or certain talk can be very difficult for people around you to deal with.  And this is one road block that can block many from reaching ultra success.  They simply “cannot tolerate ‘not tolerating’ ”.  In other words, setting extremely high expectations for yourself and others around you, and enforcing those expectations, can be extremely ‘untolerable’ for many people.  It is not always very enjoyable to enforce tolerances, and can be downright uncomfortable and tough.  It can result in less “friends”, which simply may not be something people are willing to tolerate.

Ultimately, everyone chooses what they are willing to tolerate, but most do this without thinking about how their tolerances may directly affect their success and path in life.  In general, the more challenging action and activity and implementation regiment (of productive behavior) you are willing to tolerate and execute, the more successful you will become.  Properly focused and consistent tolerance for regimented practice leads to mastery.  Mastery generally leads to success and happiness.  Take some time to think about what you are tolerating and not tolerating in your life, and what adjusting those tolerances might do for you.

Be Your Best,
Todd D. Gifford

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