186. When enough truly is enough.

My friend John is a long time adherent to The Habit of Intolerance. I did not know this about him until he called last week, after reading my blog, to tell me how vital a role The Habit of Intolerance has played in him becoming the successful person he is today.

He further explained that in order to bring The Habit of Intolerance into his everyday way of doing things he had to initially use it to replace another habit that had plagued him for many years.

John called it The Habit of Coasting and defined it as the closest thing to being completely lulled into a false sense of security, over and over again.

John is an extremely successful financial planner. He has been in the industry for more than 25 years and has spent the last 20 building an ever-growing empire of success.

His call, though, was not to talk of his successes but rather to share with me those first five years when his constant adherence to The Habit of Coasting caused him many sleepless nights and days filled with stomach churning stress that left him drained and terrified.

Like so many others, John fell victim to the plague of pain/pleasure motivation. He understood inherently that we do what we do for one of two reasons: to gain pleasure or to avoid pain.

The financial planning business is one that can, and most likely will, cause a great deal of pain as the early years are often filled with experiencing great amounts of rejection and, as John learned, not being able to deal with the pain of rejection was the number one cause of people failing and consequently, leaving the business.

John fell into the fatal trap that has snared so many others. In order to avoid constant rejection, he delayed making the calls necessary to set up the sales appointments needed to build his business.

Instead, he busied himself doing “busy work,” code word for finding anything to do other than placing himself in a position to face more rejection.

As each month came to a close, his situation would become more and more bleak, desperation would kick in and, in a frenzy of activity he would do everything necessary to close enough sales to meet the minimum requirements for job retention, and to create the tiniest income to survive another month.

And then, The Habit of Coasting would kick in. With (barely) enough money to get through the next few weeks he would, once again, do anything to prevent putting himself in the position of being rejected while he coasted on the few dollars remaining in his bank account.

This pattern continued month after month. Coasting, followed by a desperate flurry of activity, then more coasting became a way of life for John until the day arrived that he discovered The Habit of Intolerance.

That was the day he confronted the truth and decided he would no longer tolerate the stress, panic, despair and misery that The Habit of Coasting was making part of his everyday life.

He resolved to never again accept mediocrity along with its inevitable negative impact and to tolerate nothing less than measurable growth and success in every facet of his life.

His intolerance for the way he was managing his job helped him permanently overcome his fear of rejection and suddenly his career took off in ways he’d only previously dreamed of. He soon realized that rejection brought pleasure not pain when placed in the correct perspective and his sales began to soar.

He became intolerant of his weight and lost 60 pounds over a 10-month period. To this day he has not regained a single ounce.

He became intolerant of being out of shape, joined a gym, started working out and this spring completed his 17th marathon.

He became intolerant of his own moods swings and began studying ways and means to master his emotions. Today a bad day for him is one he describes as “only semi-terrific.”

John is now a lifelong devotee to The Habit of Intolerance and has learned that if we refuse to tolerate it, we will take the necessary steps to banish it from our lives.

Many of us can identify with John’s story. He speaks for us when he talks of “not taking it anymore” as being a call to action, and not a string of words to be used in moments of frustration without any intention of taking action.

Understanding that we get what we tolerate is the statement that was the crucial first step in John’s transformation.

Let these five simple words do the same for you.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

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