What You Put Up With: What Does Your Toleration Threshold Lead To?

Leadership Lesson: There can be no growth or development forward if you’re tolerating too much, unwisely using your precious resources, including energy and reputation, to hold things together or keep appearances.

There’s just too much that can go sideways then drag you down if you put up with too much BS in your life and work.

In so many words that’s how I’ve responded to high school students when they’ve asked me what my tip from The Self 60, Monitor Your Tolerations, means.

The Self 60 is a list of 60 brief tips, originally created for students to keep in mind as they make their way through the next phases of their lives. High school students can utilize the list as they make their way into either college or any other path they choose to take after graduation, while college students can keep them in mind as they begin their career tracks in the workforce. By practicing the tips on the list, the user can proactively foster and engage in great relationships while doing some of their best work, not leaving it to chance to decide what works out and what doesn’t.

Related: To All The Graduates: From Now On,
You May Be At The Mercy Of Other People

The main point of the list is to keep the items in mind and not merely react to what happens in our environments. Always remember: The best we do comes from recalling the basics, and refining and incorporating them into our everyday mindsets.

In any case, younger students may not think about how much what they tolerate can drag them down in a variety of ways. Yes, they may react in the moment, having had enough, walking away from unreasonable or negative situations and characters, but a solid reminder well in advance can help us focus on how we need to take care of ourselves. Reacting by stepping away in the moment is great, but proactively keeping an eye out for what might drag us down works even better.

The negative behavior you’re putting up with can either be an action toward you (e.g. – disrespect or obstruction) or one that doesn’t allow you to achieve your best (e.g. – lack of support or respect).

So, yeah – what does happen if you put up with too much, whether it’s in your personal, education, or professional life?

Keep in mind some of these things toleration can lead to:

A Loss of Energy

Tolerating anything eats at us. People may think that since tolerating is more inaction – putting up with something – than action that no energy is used. The thinking may go that it’s pretty effortless to put up with something — you’re just witnessing and letting it happen. The truth is that it takes a lot of energy to maintain what you’re trying to do in the face of someone else creating a negative or unsupportive environment. With toleration, you need to shell out energy to not let yourself be brought down, to then get going and move forward in the face of that suppressor.

A Lack of Progress

As a result of the exhaustion of using your energy to tolerate something, you’re also not moving forward. Loss of energy can mean you’re not getting to at least your minimum of everyday achievement and performance. Beyond that, though, think about everything else you’re losing, the potential you forfeit by putting up with too much negativity or lack of support. We tend to not sit back and plan out what we want for ourselves going forward.

And because of that, we give up on what’s possible.

Typically, we just play the day-to-day as it comes, reacting to what’s put in front of us. What about the long game? What about everything you may be capable of yet never considered? You should think about that if you haven’t already. And once you have, keep in mind that anything you’re tolerating is taking away from that long-term growth, development, and success.

A Loss of Relationship(s)

Have you ever had acquaintances, friends, or colleagues who have kept someone in their life – tolerated them, actually – to the point where it cost them other relationships? The loss of relationships — that’s a red flag any one of us should be able to spot.

And that loss of relationships can either be others outside of the duo in which one is tolerating the other, or the break up in relationship can occur within that duo itself. The relationship itself breaks down when the toleration goes on for two long and the “victim” who has done the tolerating to date finally snaps and walks away. This happens even though there might have been points in that relationship at which they could have spoken up and issued warnings about why things as they stood were not going to work for them.

Complicity & Loss of Reputation

Another hit someone takes in tolerating too much, and much in the same vein as losing relationships, is losing reputation. Relationships are the immediate connections in our everyday. Reputation loss can take place both within our relationships without our knowing it and with people a few degrees of separation away who may see who we are and what we’re supposed to represent, but who take note of the environment we tolerate and choose not to approach or work with us.

Extreme Ownership – take note of it. It tells us we are responsible for what we allow to happen in our environment, especially if we don’t try to speak up at all. People will know (and understand) that we might not have full control of what’s going on, but our attitude will shape their perception. What are we doing about the things that aren’t working out? Are we trying to fix them or just putting up with them?

Related In The Books Podcast
Episode 5: Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead And Win
By Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Who would want to come work or be with us in that type of environment?


Cutting ties is difficult. With each of us being humans before professionals, we see ongoing and growing connection as a form of success, satisfaction, and happiness. Most may feel that if they walk away from a relationship of any kind, or let it deteriorate, they’ve failed in some way, and that it’s a poor reflection on who they are.

I ask you to reconsider that thought in certain situations, and let go of things that are suffocating you and limiting your growth, happiness, and progress.

It’s OK to quit something — or someone. It’s how and why you quit that matters. I think taking care of your mental, personal, and professional health is worth walking away for. Again, it depends on who you are, where and with whom you find yourself, and what you need.

Related: There’s A Difference Between “Quitting” And Doing What’s Best For You

The act of quitting something or someone is not the only important part to consider. It’s important to consider how soon you’ll do it. The longer you wait to cut ties, the harder it is to salvage what it is you have left.

Related: Cut Ties To Get Away From The Negative Sooner Rather Than Later

Development and growth are not only about what you’re doing but about what you’re not doing — in this case, not expelling negativity from your development space. You need to monitor where it is you need to start taking action to move forward.

Take stock of the people and the obstacles that stand in your way, pushing you back and holding you down. Monitor what you tolerate.



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