The famous Anthony Robbins frequently repeats that:
Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards. What really changed my life is the change I demanded of myself. I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things I aspired to becoming.
In a different passage, he speaks about reaching an emotional threshold and he goes on to assure that once we reach that emotional threshold we can no longer return to the status quo or accept certain things. A few hours ago, Angie resigned her newly accepted position after spending less than 9 hours on the job. She couldn’t handle the chaotic culture in the office, the lack of directions, the absence of hierarchy, the non-existent job descriptions, the unavailability of guidelines, the lack of planning and organization, the time needed to write a sentence, to send an email, to format the email, to type a word, in addition to the screaming owner, his moods, his temperament, his arrogance, his attitude, and so on and do so forth.
A few years ago, Angie encountered a similar situation and she was able to tolerate it for 6 long days. This time it wasn’t only the chaos that she couldn’t handle, but it was also, and most importantly, the smell of cigarettes in the office. The employer and his wife smoked heavily. The office was composed of two rooms: A big room for the employer, and another room where everyone else worked. He smoked in his office, and there weren’t any window to open to let the smell out. And his wife smoked in the other room where one tiny window above an employee’s desk was located. It was unthinkable to open the window because it was very cold outside. So Angie had to either tolerate the smell or move on. She wasn’t going to tell the employer or his wife that smoking is a dangerous habit that can lead to serious health problems. Even if she told them, she didn’t expect them to adjust these habits or refrain from smoking in the office. Especially that one of her colleagues told her that the boss is always right and we always do what he asks us to do. Most importantly, she felt so helpless in that place, that she wasn’t going to put herself at risk of secondhand smoking. Health is the highest priority for Angie. It wasn’t something she was willing to derogate from, diminish, or put at risk.
The four employees were a different story. Angie would describe them as non-competent employees with limited English who didn’t know what they were doing, where they were going, or how to teach anything to anyone. Of course, they didn’t view themselves as such and they considered themselves very competent with excellent English skills. Angie found it awkward that they would ask each other what to write and how to phrase it. She considered it odd that they would take on average 30 minutes to write a few sentences in an email. In Angie’s eyes, everything seemed to be floating. There were no clear guidelines to follow, no hierarchy, no decision makers, and the employer would tell his employees to ask his wife, and the wife would tell the employees to ask the employer. Finally, the employees would decide something, and they would carry it on, only to be rebuked later on.
There were other things that Angie couldn’t tolerate either. Tasks weren’t clearly divided. There were employees who would perform the same tasks without knowing what was going on. The first employee would answer the phone, and later on, the second employee would talk to the same customer, and hardly anything was ever solved or handled properly. There were no deadlines. Problems existed everywhere, but no solutions were anywhere to be seen. The woman Angie was supposed to replace frequently handled angry clients who were disappointed, frustrated, or simply depressed from the whole process. One of the tasks that Angie would have shouldered was to call clients and remind them of some unsettled payments. In the employer’s opinion, most clients were liars and would not keep their promises. Depending on his mood, the woman Angie was supposed to replace was either perfect or a total moron and her tasks were too menial in his eyes.
The only day Angie spent in that office was a chore. She watched how that woman handled tasks. She did her best to remain calm and to think that once she is in charge she would make sweeping changes in that place, but alas, this morning, when she entered the office and smoke filled her lungs, she knew she didn’t care about any of these tasks or files or work or anything in that place. What pushed her to walk away was a badly written email from the employer. This was her emotional threshold. You see, she couldn’t work for someone who couldn’t write a complete sentence with a few punctuation marks without any abbreviations. Most importantly, to effectively serve a company, she needed to respect and admire her employer. After reading parts of his email, she realized that she couldn’t understand a single word of what he was asking his employees to do. And above all, she couldn’t imagine herself trying to decipher his jumbled thoughts and phrases for any longer period. She simply couldn’t. It was way below her standards. It wasn’t something she could adjust herself to. And then while sitting there watching her two colleagues trying for more than 30 minutes to write one single sentence, she realized that she didn’t belong to that place. She didn’t wear any make-up. She never wore any makeup, and she always ran away from those who identified themselves with their clothes, makeup, looks, and hair. She felt different, way different from her colleagues. And above all, she didn’t want to be bossed around by a younger woman who hardly had a bachelor degree while Angie had 3 completed degrees with 2 other degrees on the way.
She waited for the employer to make his appearance in the office. A few seconds later, she followed him to his office, told him that she wanted to leave, grabbed her stuff, and walked away…
On the street, under the rain, she tried taking a deep breath. The air was heavy. It was difficult to breathe. A weird taste in her mouth hindered her from feeling the air in her lungs. She started walking between the cars, the traffic, the tall ugly buildings, the noisy streets, the rain, the water, the seconds, and the cold. She wanted meaning, purpose, guidance, and a more fulfilling job. She wanted to feel excited that she was walking to a job where she was appreciated, listened to, and respected. That job wasn’t what she wanted, it was way below her standards.