Have you caught yourself complaining recently?
- What about that time when your colleague forgot to complete the excel file on time, and you complained to the boss?
- How about the time you complained about not getting a job after four rounds of interview even after the recruiter was positive about your performance?
- Or about the time when your friend asked you about working out, and you complained about not having enough time?
You might feel that you got the short end of the stick and that life is unfair. But have you ever thought about what you can do if you choose NOT to complain?
Let’s see what would be the outcome if you didn’t complain
Scenario 1: Could have changed the outcome
If you had listened to your colleague the last time you spoke to him, you would have remembered that he was worried about his father’s health and hence might have had a lot of things on his mind. It would not have taken much effort on your part to remind him about the file before the deadline.
Scenario 2: What you can do instead of complaining after the outcome
There might be many reasons you did not get the job. Complaining about it will not change you or the outcome. The best you can do is to email the company to try and find out why you did not make the cut and if you can improve on that aspect of the job hunt, and then move on.
Scenario 3: You have complete control over the outcome
You could have spent 20 minutes jogging while listening to an audiobook or an interesting podcast instead of watching YouTube videos. You should make the time to do what you feel is important and more importantly, just start. You don’t have to run 20 minutes every day, start with 10 minutes 3 days a week. It’s more important to begin working towards your goal by taking some effort rather than dreaming about running five days a week for 20 minutes.
How do you stop complaining?
For the first 30 years of my life, I have been guilty of complaining many times, and I did not overcome it in a day or even a week, it took me months.
Scenario 1: Could have changed the outcome
- Always keep a lookout when teamwork is involved.
- Focus on what you can do to make the team better.
- Think about the possible outcomes and plan for them.
Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.
– Benjamin Franklin
Scenario 2 and 3:
- Every time you think about complaining, take a pause (pinch yourself if you have to)
- Figure out if you can change the outcome
- Now that you know the cause think about the tasks you can do next to change the outcome
- Execute the tasks!
“If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Why is this so important?
Let’s apply this to a real-life scenario.
My wife and I wanted to travel abroad, and we enlisted the services of a travel agency to apply for the visa. The country that we wanted to travel required us to submit our international travel history and all pages of our current passport.
We had recently renewed our passport and realized that we would need to submit our old passports since that has our travel history proof. The agency seemed to be oblivious of this and did not ask for the old passport since it was not on the list of required documents.
I had two choices at that point, 1) wait and see what happens and then complain about their lack of responsibility or 2) ask them to include the old passports and explain the logic behind doing so. The former will delay our visa by atleast two weeks while the latter will not.
Naturally, we chose option (2) and asked the agency to keep this in mind the next time they process another visa.
Let’s look at another example:
I recently read an article on how automation technology will replace a certain percentage of the human workforce in the future. The workforce has two choices, (1) complain about how life is not fair and point the finger at someone else or (2) take steps to ensure that you are valuable by up-skilling your current ability.
The former is easy to do but won’t get you anywhere in life while the latter is hard to do (just like anything in life worth having is) and you can either keep the job at the company or find another job/venture that will help you live your life.
One important note is that you have to up-skill whether or not disruptions are arising. You should not wait for something to change; instead, take small steps to be the change since the only thing constant in life is change.
How will NOT complaining improve your life?
This is the age of disruptions, everything is changing fast, and it is only going to change faster in the future.
Once you learn to stop complaining, you will:
- Develop a sense of perspective and empathy that will translate to every part of your life.
- Learn to be proactive. This will set you apart from others because you are a doer and can work without supervision.
- Improves your time management skills as you control how you spend your time.
- Focus on things that are in your control so that you don’t waste your effort on things that are not.
- Keep learning to get better at what you do and grow into what you envision yourself to be in the future.
I acquired the ‘NO complain’ mindset mid-2016, and it has helped me focus on what I have to do next rather than just grumble and not make any progress in my life.
What are you waiting for! Get going and start applying this now. It will be life-changing and give you the power to control your destiny.
Two people who helped me achieve this are Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) and Ramit Sethi (@ramit), I am very grateful to all the content that you guys put out there. I also want to thank Tim Ferris (@tferris) for inspiring me to start my first blog.
Check this video by Gary V: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_pdKl2N2Ww (Warning: this video contains strong language)
Please let me know what you think in the comments.
P.S.: My next post is going to be on how to up skill.