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  • Writer's pictureErin

Tolerate Nothing

Do you have kids? If so, do you remember life with kiddos under the age of 3? I have a 2 ½ year old and the life-lessons I have learned by watching her are endless.

When she was born my husband and I were told by many of our friends to enjoy the first two years, because ages 2 and 3 are TOUGH. I’m not even through it yet and #truth.

There are days where my daughter tests the outermost boundaries of my patience. And then there are those days she blows right past those boundaries and I am left with no other option than to put the both of us to bed and hope for a better day tomorrow.

However, in those moments I have realized she is teaching me a lesson I am working on in my own coaching. Encouraging my clients (and myself) to be mindful of (and perhaps resist against) the things they are tolerating.

My daughter tolerates almost nothing. In fact, if she isn’t interested in doing it, she flat out resists. She won’t tolerate when she is informed she cannot watch yet another episode of Paw Patrol. She doesn’t tolerate when we tell her to eat the food off of HER plate as it is the exact same as what she is reaching for on OURS. She won’t tolerate a day where she can’t be outside, playing pretend in our neighborhood playhouses. She won’t tolerate a day without a “special treat” (typically some version of a donut or ice-cream -- best if stolen from Mom or Dad). And she certainly won’t tolerate a trip to the grocery store unless she can have her own kid-sized shopping cart (or one with those silly drivable cars attached to the front which means Mom and Dad end up navigating a charter bus around the grocery store.)

And you know what? Albeit it extremely frustrating for me as a parent, it works for her. She knows who she is, what she wants, and she doesn’t tolerate much outside of those things.

Somehow as toddlers we seem to tolerate nothing and then as adults we suddenly tolerate it all. Why is that? What prompts the switch?

When do we decide that what others want from us is more important than what we want for ourselves?

I recently had a professional experience where I was being asked to provide something to a client I don’t offer. During my client meeting I found myself being uncomfortable with the request. In fact, I let the request play over and over in my mind starting to create overwhelm for a few days. I was feeling pretty powerless over the situation until I remembered a tool I learned through coaching called “designing the alliance (DTA)”.

Essentially DTA is the process of the coach and a client identifying the specific rules of the road for how they will work together. During this process guidelines are created for what both people need from each other for the coaching engagement to be successful.

Things like: how and when they will meet, how they will communicate with each other and the ways in which they will re-align the coaching engagement if it ever starts to go off the rails. DTA is a crucial first step in any coaching engagement.

It occurred to me I could use the DTA process in my situation to re-align on expectations. It worked perfectly. I was able to have an open and honest conversation with my client to reset expectations and our next meeting was much more productive than the first.

Where in your life are you tolerating something that you need to re-design? Perhaps it is a relationship at work, with your spouse or someone else in your family? Maybe it is with something you are tolerating in your relationship with yourself (broken commitments, poor health choices, your current life circumstances).

If you need to re-design the process can be simple. Here are a few questions to get you started:

· What needs to be in place for this to be a powerful alliance?

· What values will be held as the foundation for the alliance?

· How will we know if it is working?

· How will we re-align if it isn’t?

· What boundaries do we need to put in place for this to be successful?

For my daughter and I that means when we grocery shop she gets the obnoxious kid’s shopping cart and I get one-less temper tantrum in my week. #DTA

Now it’s your turn. What are you tolerating in your life? What’s the impact of you doing so? What are you giving up by continuing to tolerate these things?

What's possible if you don't?

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