What Are You Tolerating in Your Business?

What are you tolerating?

If you’re a coach, or if you’ve ever worked with one, this question is probably very familiar to you.

According to Kristin Robertson it refers to “the minor irritants in your life that, once eliminated, could make your life flow more smoothly.”

Terry Dean tells us that there are basically two things that motivate us: pain and pleasure. When we look at making changes in our lives, we generally think about things that will bring us more pleasure.

For example, one year my personal goals included such things as:

  • Spend more time on hobbies
  • Decorate my home
  • Rent a cottage

We’re much less likely to think about eliminating the things that cause us pain, especially if it’s only minor pain. Instead, we just put up with it. As a result, we deny ourselves the opportunity to make things better.

I challenge you to sit down and list the things that you are tolerating. If you’re self-employed, there are probably countless tasks that keep you working “in” your business instead of “on” it. Or maybe those tasks aren’t getting done at all. Either of those situations may be hindering your productivity and your ability to enjoy the benefits of being your own boss.

Once you have a list, figure out how those things can be eliminated from your life. You might consider working with a virtual assistant who can take those tasks off your plate and free up your time for the work that you love to do.

If traditional goal-setting methods have not been effective for you, why not try this exercise? You don’t have to take it anymore!

What are you tolerating?

Photo © Wavebreakmedia / Depositphotos

Posted in


  1. Jonda Beattie on October 25, 2021 at 8:04 am

    Early on I had a business coach that helped me look at things I was tolerating. In my case some of the items were the way my office was set up. I was tolerating carpet that was there when we moved in. I was tolerating some bad lighting. Making changes in my physical office space made it a happy place to go and be productive.

    • Janet Barclay on October 25, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      I’ve tolerated similar issues and dealing with them makes such a big difference!

  2. Sabrina Quairoli on October 25, 2021 at 11:02 am

    I love that you mentioned delegating as a solution to tolerating the tasks. It’s so hard to explain the release that one feels when someone can hand off a job to another person. Small business owners are prone “to do it all,” but they don’t have to.

    • Janet Barclay on October 25, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      Some have a harder time with that than others. In some cases, they don’t think they can afford to pay for help (which is covered in this post but others seem to be afraid they will be giving up control, which is far from the truth.

  3. Seana Turner on October 25, 2021 at 11:37 am

    Okay, excellent question. I might suggest this as a topic for conversation over dinner. I tend to be less tolerant that my husband, so I’m sure I will have a list and he’ll say, “Nothing, it’s all good.” LOL!

    We were just walking around our property yesterday because I have been tolerating an area that just looks lousy. I think simply having the conversation has gotten me going on considering how I can take action to improve this space!

    Thanks for the thought.

    • Janet Barclay on October 25, 2021 at 4:45 pm

      Happy to help! I hope that conversation takes you in the direction you’d like it to.

  4. Linda Samuels on October 25, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    I love that question…”What are you tolerating?” I know you specified “in your business,” but I think it applies to all areas in life. You’re so right that change is driven by pain or pleasure. But often, there can be a low level of pain. It hurts, but not THAT much. That’s where “tolerate” lives. But when we’re in a space to really look at those annoyances or things we keep tamping down and examining them, it’s incredible what can transpire. Feelings of happiness, empowerment, joy and more will begin to surface. So the question is really asking us to notice, be aware, and see how we can create more flow in our lives.

    • Janet Barclay on October 25, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      You’re right – it applies to our personal lives too – like my kitchen!

  5. Julie Bestry on October 26, 2021 at 2:34 am

    I’ve always loved this approach. Decades ago, I read one of Cheryl Richardson’s books (probably Take Time for Your Life) and one of the first exercises was to make a list of everything you’ve been tolerating and start eliminating items one by one. Whenever I’m feeling stuck in my life, pull out the old list, note where I left off, and new things, and it shakes everything up. In *business* though, I probably don’t do this nearly often enough, and I know my “tolerations” are almost always technological. I see above that Linda notes the sometimes we have to really feel more than a pinch of pain to stop being so tolerant. This post is a great reminder of how much better we can run our businesses and our lives by really examining what we tolerate…and getting a little intolerant. (I even wrote a post about this last year, called “Organize Away Frustration: Practice The Only Good Kind of “Intolerance”” — though that was about organizing, not business processes.)

  6. Lucy Kelly on October 26, 2021 at 3:39 pm

    This is such a profound question to ask. Do I tolerate because I don’t know better is out there? Because I don’t think I deserve better? Because I don’t want to make a fuss? Thank you for the opportunity to think about what I might be tolerating that I don’t need to!

Leave a Comment