After I speak or after someone reads my book, one of the most frequent comments that I get is that they are embarrassed of complaining. Now, do I believe them? Of course not. Complaining is a part of life. If you are growing as a person, or as a professional, there will be problems and issues that are going to tick you off. If you don’t find a way to deal with your feelings you will blow up.
For the sake of this article, there are three kinds of complaining and guess what? Two of them are actually healthy. (Imagine that! A motivational speaker that says complaining is OK.) Let’s start first off with the bad kind. This sucks and no matter what I do, this is not going to get any better. In this scenario, you are playing the victim. You’re not taking any responsibility for anything. You’re basically throwing in the towel and accepting defeat.
The second type is this sucks but here’s what I’m going to do to rectify it. One time, I got an email from a colleague of mine and he was complaining about how he had to put a marketing proposal together and how he dreaded doing it and knew nothing about putting one together. I emailed him back saying, you are complaining to the right person. In the next week, we met for coffee and we spent three hours going over his ideas and I gave him my input as the great marketing junkie that I am.
I complain all the time, but I always follow my complaining up with the fact that I am doing something about it. Everybody gets stuck at one point or another. Complaining is a way to get our emotions out and let other people in.
The third kind is a little more tricky. I call it to mourn and move on. My disability pisses me off every single day. I feel that I have to take time to mourn everything that my disability took from me. There is nothing that I can do about it accept acknowledge that it sucks. Like the second type of complaining, if I don’t express these feelings I might explode and, to be honest, I have exploded before. (I wonder if I’m allowed to say that as a motivational speaker. Let me check the handbook and I will get back to you.)
Here is a secret: If you want to get close to people, especially successful people, be their sounding board because the more success you have, the bigger complaints you will have. If you want to become a millionaire, then listen to millionaire problems. We should all be sounding boards for each other. If you are a sounding board for me, then I will be a sounding board for you. It works both ways. If you are going to complain, which is inevitable and healthy, do it in a positive way instead of in a negative way. You don’t want to sound like Gilbert Godfrey.
There is a big caveat: No matter what kind of complaining you do, your actions have to be consistent with your complaining. If you’re complaining about not having any money one day, don’t show me your new Gucci wallet the next day. If you are complaining about not being able to lose weight, don’t order a dessert next time we go out to eat. I admit that sometimes I can be hypocritical too, and let me tell you, I hate hypocrisy. I complain all the time that it’s hard for me to meet and go out with girls, yet there are times when I don’t go on match.com or I don’t go out to clubs. It’s often times difficult to not get discouraged. What happens to me is that one day I decide that I need to be more proactive on match.com and I get excited, try it for a couple days, and not get any results, and just give up. It’s an evil cycle, one that I recognize and I am trying to break.
Whether you are talking about getting out of debt, losing weight, or getting out there in the dating world, there will be times when you just want to rip your hair out. To diffuse your frustration, you need to complain about it, but make sure your actions are consistent with your words.
Timelapse - Lighthouse (Oct 2012) from IMK Digital Multimedia on Vimeo.