A Growing Epidemic: Complaining
I’m not the first one to talk about this.
But it’s a theme that’s been coming across my attention the last few weeks.
Or at least the last few weeks I’ve been noticing it more.
I don’t know if it’s me noticing it more.
I don’t know if it’s just this way for every generation.
I don’t know, but it seems like complaining is more common than every before.
And that’s a problem because complaining seems to be a detriment to success and it’s also contagious.
Just as you can catch a cold from someone in the same room, you can just as easily find yourself complaining when you’re around someone else that is complaining.
Getting Beat Down By Life
Everybody is going through something.
We’re all different, but we’re all the same in many ways.
I’m sure there are varying degrees of troubles in everyone’s life, but it seems that everyone has their own sort of troubles.
One potential issue that can lead to complaining is that in our own reality we view our own troubles as worse than others. We look at others and perhaps only see the good things happening in their lives. And as a result we think we have less than what we deserve.
It might start out with one thing in life.
Then over time others build on top and over time you get beat down.
A good example of this is John Fogerty. I just finished reading his autobiography.
John felt he got a bad deal with his record company. It seems to be that he indeed got ripped off.
He let that slight consume his life for a long time. And it still seems to affect him in major ways at least in the way he came across in the book.
But there was an interesting point in the book; he looked back about 20 years ago when he realized that things weren’t going to change. And that realization was like a weight being lifted off his shoulders.
This was 20+ years after things started going bad for him, but he was finally able to realize, at least a little bit, that he got a raw deal, but that it would never change. He had to move forward by putting his energy into things he could control.
John had been beat down by the same thing and related things for much of his life.
What You Control & Looking For Solutions
There seems to be different types of complaining.
In one situation, people complain because they feel helpless. And over time that frustration builds up and complaining becomes second nature.
In the other situation, people catch themselves complaining, but they move forward and look for solutions. And a solution is not waiting for others to change or take action. It’s about focusing on what you can control.
For example, John Fogerty felt all his problems would be solved if the owner of his record label would give him a better royalty rate or give him ownership of his songs. Yeah, that would be nice, but it wasn’t in John’s control. The solution that John ultimately came to was that he could only change what he could control. He could move forward and focus on new music. He could continue to play his songs. He would have to pay a copyright fee, but he would get the reward of live audience feedback and getting to play to large crowds.
Another examples comes to mind too – I’ve been watching a few episodes of The Vanilla Ice Project on Netflix. I don’t know why I started, but the show is entertaining. And one thing I’ve noticed is that Vanilla Ice is really good at focusing on what he can control. He’s not a big complainer. Bad things happen, but he is pretty good about focusing on the future.
In one episode, a guy on his crew accidentally broke a $4,500 granite countertop. Yikes. Rob (real name)was pretty taken aback, but within a minute or so he was already thinking about what the solution would be.
Another time, Rob was helping carrying a fragile countertop himself and it cracked. Another loss of thousands. Crazy. But he again quickly moved on to what the solution would be.
He could sit there complaining about the situation and how the world is out to get him, but he moves forward. He thinks long-term. He thinks about what he can control.
That’s not easy to do, but it’s essential for success.
One final example: Golf.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of golf is moving on. Just about every golf coach will tell their students that when you hit a bad shot you have to forget it.
That’s not easy. I fail at that all the time. It usually leads to high scores.
I’ll hit the first shot on a hole in the water. From there I get disappointed and before I know what happened I’m marking down a 7 or 8 for the hole.
What the better, more consistent players, are able to do is to refocus. They forget the bad shot and focus on the next shot and how to hit the next shot as well as possible. They score bogey at worst and perhaps even save par on occasion.
Bad bounces happen. We might even feel like we hit good shots and get bad breaks, but that thinking leads to high scores.
We have more access to information than ever before. That comes with huge opportunities, but it also forces us to have more discipline because while we have access to more information we also have access to more things to complain about.
Successful people seem to have the discipline to focus on what they control and what the solution is going forward. Yes, they get disappointed, but they know how to move on.
That’s a real key to success in business and in life. And it seems to be a key to being happy.
When you’re focused on solutions you’re full of energy. You can see a plan.
When all you can do is focus on complaining you’ll feel frustrated and helpless and that obviously won’t get you anywhere.