Do you ever complain? Its rhetorical because of course you do, we all do. We complain about traffic, our jobs, our kids, our marriages, our bosses and much more. Last week I ended up in the hospital for a few days and complained about the beeping and the food containers. Why do we complain so much? The United States is one of the richest countries in the world and people flock here because of available opportunities. We have so much and access to even more but yet we complain. The other day I heard something that made so much sense to me and offered an explanation. Complaining is rooted in putting our hope in ever changing circumstances.
I will never forget the day I interviewed for my current job. I was nervous and praying that this would work out. It is funny how later I can complain about what I once prayed so hard for. There is little else that can degrade your workplace like complaining. This is true at every level in the organization. We all have life burdens we carry and those burdens are based on our current circumstance. We have physical challenges, relational issues, health concerns, and job related problems. As leaders we have to understand this about ourselves and also about those team members we lead. How we deal with our burdens will be on display to some extent to others. There are generally three responses to challenges: complaining, concealing, or confessing.
When we complain, it makes the problem bigger by dragging other people into our negative view. When we conceal, we fake like everything is OK but end up moving towards distant isolation. When we confess our burden to a mentor or friend, we can have a conversation which can help reduce the impact. Which response are you promoting as a leader? What would a 360 degree review reveal about how you deal with issues? I tend to run first towards concealing, then, after some inward reflection, confession. I do complain, but try to only do that with my door shut! Basing the hope for your future on shifting circumstances will only lead to defeat because difficult times are either here or they are coming. Basing your hope on your life’s call, or your mission, will keep you focussed on moving forward and making progress regardless of current and ever changing circumstance. Response to issues and challenges may be the greatest lesson taught to not only to team members, maybe even successors.
One final related note, this may help with personal complaining. According to globalrichlist.com, if you make $50,000 per year, you are in the top .31% of the richest people in the world. It is difficult to understand this when we look around and see things others have that we don’t. Social media has made this worse. There are awesome pictures of other people’s lives that get compared to our average lives. Keep in mind, before that nice family picture on Instragram was posted, that family bickered like yours and mine! Try not to compare your insides with someone else’s social media highlights. This will go a long way towards a proper perspective! This is the same as going to a work conference and hearing how everyone else has it all together. We both know it’s not true so don’t compare your normal to someone else’s best.