“You can’t change what you tolerate.”
In my master bath, above the bathtub, is a flood light. The bulb went out several weeks ago and has yet to be changed. Whether it’s because I prefer the shower over the bath or simply because I don’t care, it doesn’t matter. The bulb remains dead.
In a recent leadership podcast from Craig Groeschel, the founding pastor of Life Church, he made a statement that really resonated with me. He stated, “You can’t change what you tolerate.” Think about that statement. Mull it over for a few minutes in your mind.
If you are like me, and I suspect many of you are, there are elements in our lives as well as our professions that we allow to exist. They are elements, activities, habits – whatever — that we tolerate. Deep down, we know we can’t continue this way, but we tolerate them. We allow them to continue to exist. And, as a result, we become an enabler — we empower and embolden their continued existence.
And what does that mean for you and me? What does that do within us? For me, it begins to create an irritation. This leads to frustration. And, eventually, anger that they have the gall to continue when it’s just plain wrong. “How dare they?”, I yell.
And yet I continue to tolerate the areas that miss the mark. I’m more inclined to let it continue rather than confront the situation and make a change.
In the 70s, the movie “Network” make famous the phrase, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” It’s at this point that we decide to – even refuse to – accept this pattern of behavior any further. It has had its way far too long and now we’re mad as hell and we, too, just aren’t going to take it anymore!
But seriously, do we have to get to the point where we’re mad as hell? Can’t we establish clear and straightforward standards that we won’t accept or tolerate?
Another statement Craig made is this: “Our natural mode is not urgency; our natural mode is complacency.” In other words, it’s natural to operate within the confines of safety and security rather than take a risk. It’s easier to keep things the way they are than to stir the pot and stretch ourselves. In doing so, we begin to tolerate bad behavior. We begin to let things slide. And then, seemingly out of the blue, we’re mad and we’re not going to take it anymore!
What are you tolerating? What are you empowering to let slide by and do nothing to address it?
What areas of your personal life are you “accepting” rather than taking action?
In your professional life, whether it’s regarding you personally or a member or members of your team — what are you tolerating that shouldn’t be the “norm?”
That light bulb? Well, it’s still out. After getting on the ladder and fussing and cussing with it, I can’t get it out of the socket. Oh, wait, there’s another point! When we tolerate something long enough, it isn’t going to change easily. There will be resistance to change. They will fight you on it, arguing, “Why change now?”
Improvement and change are not easy – for anyone. But if we continue to tolerate mediocrity, you continue to get mediocre results.
By the way, anyone know a good way to loosen a flood light?