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Toleration Tension

Image of fraying rope against black background

Dear Hummers, 
 
We have gathered today to mourn the loss of our mojo, our hum. We are experiencing what I like to call Toleration Tension. You see, we’ve lost a piece of ourselves. We’ve lost our glow. I’ve seen it, and I’ve experienced it. 
 
Four months into this adventure called business ownership, I was having a late night chat with my husband after another very long day. I said despite the fact that I’m working insane hours and running around doing one thousand things each day, I am happier. I am lighter. I am laughing more. I am humming. 
 
My husband said something brilliant. He said during the last year and a half at ARAG, my previous employer, I had been pulled in two different directions. I was pulled by the company and people I loved at ARAG, but I was also pulled by the call of business ownership and taking a leap. I had been living with this tension, and it was exhausting. It was the cost of tension. 
 
I remember, not so fondly, a job I took leading a Quality Assurance team. Yes, Sarah Noll Wilson was going through 30,000 lines on a spreadsheet every day. And yes, I hated it. It didn’t feed into what I was good at, what I really wanted to be doing. It was literally soul crushing. But I fell into this idea of, “well I like my coworkers, and I’m getting paid, and the company is pretty great.” So I tolerated it. But by the time I left that job, I was pretty broken. My spark was gone. The hum was silent. 


Toleration Tension doesn’t just affect the job aspect of your life. You can feel toleration tension about a perspective you’ve held that maybe just doesn’t sit right with you. Or maybe you’ve tolerated the city you live in, but you really don’t thrive there. Case in point: one of my business partners, Rachel. 
 
I’ve been seeing Rachel just shine after a recent cross-country move to Bend, Oregon. It was only right before this move that Rachel confided to me that Des Moines had been killing her spirit for the last year. It was her home base, she had grown her business, and she had a fierce tribe of friends, but she felt paralyzed living here. It didn’t feed her soul, and so she made a change. I can see in her photos the Toleration Tension just melting away. She glows in a way that wasn’t present in Des Moines.

The Toleration Tension Trap

I think there are three traditional paths we take when we experience the Toleration Tension phenomenon: 

  1. We lose sight of the possibilities because we’ve been tolerant for so long.
  2. We get comfortable and complacent with tolerating the situation. It’s the safe option.
  3. We fall into the trap of thinking we don’t deserve other possibilities.

But I’m here to tell you, none of these will release that tension. Toleration Tension might require change. A change in jobs, a change in location, a change in partners. Or, it could be as simple, but still as powerful, as changing your perspective. That coworker that’s your arch nemesis? Maybe he’s fearful of failure and that’s why he’s difficult to work with. That job that requires 60 hours of work per week and doesn’t feed into your passion? Maybe it’s time to start networking and polishing off your resume. Or maybe it’s time to take a year sabbatical. YOU know what YOU need to release that tension.  

Get Curious

What are you consistently tolerating that dampens you? And how are you going to break that tension? 

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