Sam Hazledine: When tolerance gets in the way of excellence

Clogged mess: Queenstown's Kawarau Rd

OPINION: A mantra I live by in business is: tolerance is the enemy of excellence.

Essentially, you get what you tolerate.

In life, nothing changes until we reach a threshold whereby we make a decision to no longer tolerate something that isn’t right.

Think about it – if your job, your finances, your relationship, your health, etc, isn’t where you want it to be, then unless you are right now doing something major to change it, you are tolerating the undesirable state. And you are getting what you tolerate.

Now, don’t get me wrong, tolerance is necessary in many situations. There are things in anyone’s life that aren’t ideal, that’s just a reality. But, if something isn’t a major priority, then you might choose to tolerate that in order to fight the battles that truly matter. For example, you might tolerate a long commute to work because you love the job. Even though you don’t like the drive, you love what you do so that makes the drive worth it.

The problem, however, comes when tolerance becomes a way of living, when you start to tolerate everything that isn’t ideal. That tolerance, that state of consistently putting up with things you don’t like, eats away at who you are and what you stand for. That erodes your self-worth, so you tolerate even more that isn’t ideal and it becomes a downward spiral.

And that brings me to Queenstown.

We seem to be developing a culture of tolerance, rather than a culture of excellence.

The cars parking along State Highway 6 between the Frankton roundabout and the airport to avoid paying for parking at the airport have long been a problem. The first experience travellers get of Queenstown is not ideal, it looks like a mess. The fact there are broken yellow lines along that piece of road doesn’t seem to have spurred the council into any action to ticket any of these cars.

As so as we tolerate, things get worse.

Two weeks ago, I was driving to the airport and noticed that cars are now parked two-deep on the grass beside the roundabout. People are seeing there is a tolerance of mediocrity, so they push the envelope and take the piss.

Then the other day I was driving along SH6 out of town, and just past Five Mile I saw a car parked by the road with ‘for sale’ signs.

“That’s messy”, I thought.

Nothing was done, and now there are five cars there with ‘for sale’ signs. I have no doubt by the time you read this there will be more.

If we aren’t careful, if we continue to tolerate mediocrity, then Queenstown is in danger of dying a death by a thousand cuts.

We need to focus on the little things, because it’s not one thing that undermines us, it’s the sum total of many things.

Sam Hazledine was 2012’s Ernst & Young Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Sir Peter Blake Leader, founder of MedRecruit, and author of Unfair Fight, for more check out

REPLY: Queenstown council’s regulatory boss Lee Webster says: “QLDC agrees this situation is unacceptable. Parking along SH6 has become both an eyesore and a safety hazard. From June 22, QLDC will be responsible for the enforcement of parking in these areas. As a result, cars parked on the roadside or grass verges will be ticketed and risk being towed. Our enforcement team has been contacting the owners of the cars for sale near Five Mile and requesting they move their vehicles or risk having them towed. This direct approach seems to have worked well and we intend to ensure it continues.”