Leaders “Don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses!”
These words from John Wooden quoting his father are imperative for every leader to understand and practice. Your success as a leader will be hindered drastically by letting yourself take part in these three progressively negative attitudes. It is important to understand the difference first. When you read that quote did you think to yourself like I did, “Whining and complaining are the same, why say it twice?” Let’s try to understand the progressive nature of the attitude behind each one and why they are so dangerous.
Whining. We’ve all hear it. You’re working with or next to a person and then you hear it. It’s that low, sometimes quiet exasperated noise; that “uhhg”, “grrr” or some other raspy noise that is impossible to spell, that resonates through your eardrums like fingernails across the chalkboard. (If you don’t know what a chalkboard is, ask someone over the age of thirty.)
The attitude has taken hold! If you are the one finding yourself in this situation, It is time to STOP and take a moment to think about what you’re allowing to happen to yourself. What is the underlying issue? Selfishness. You are upset because something is not going your way, your focus is 100% on yourself and how you feel in the moment. I warn you not to let it go further. If you find yourself whining, I can promise you this; everyone hears you, nobody is listening to you and nobody want to be around you. this is your wake up call! Don’t advance into the next phase of Complaining.
“There is nothing more unattractive than the sound of whining in the midst of plenty. it is not a good sign of character at any level – in individuals, families, communities, or nations as a whole.” -William J. Bennett, Virtues of Leadership
The advancement from whining to complaining can happen in a single breath. As soon as you open your mouth to say something, you have taken the next giant leap into complaining mode. You are now begging for sympathy from anyone within earshot. I’m going to let in on a little secret here. please take note of what I’m about to say. NOBODY wants to hear it! NOBODY will listen to it! You will find NO SYMPATHY in your plea! If you are in a position of leadership, you have just lost a degree of respect and trust from your subordinates! If you are an employee, You are no longer being looked at for a promotion and perhaps more so in today’s tough economy, you may be at risk of losing your position.
Making excuses is the culmination of selfishness and a bad attitude seeking pity. If you take the next step and begin making excuses, you have given away your ability to make any changes. By complaining, you have removed any personal responsibility for the problem and therefore the solution cannot come from yourself. When Complaining, you are simply putting the responsibility for change, or solving the problem on someone else. You are essentially saying “he did it.” or “it wasn’t my fault because, …” or “I did what I was supposed to do, but…” to name only a few common excuses. I’m sure you can insert a dozen more of your own here. You know it when you here it. This, unfortunately is an epidemic in our society.
As a leader, YOU can stop at any point and choose to take responsibility. Even if it was not your fault, you, as the leader are still responsible. Let me say this a different way; whoever takes the responsibility IS the leader (with or without a formal position) and will be the one to make the changes needed. I challenge you today to be the person who takes responsibility! You CAN do it!
Remember this simple point: Your problem is not as big as you think it is and you have complete control over your own attitude towards your problems.
I want to share this great example with you to illustrate my point. It’s the story of Grumble Town. (from Virtues of Leadership by William J. Bennett)
There was once a place called Grumble Town where everybody grumbled, grumbled, grumbled. In summer, the people grumbled that it was too hot. In winter, it was too cold. When it rained, the children whimpered because they couldn’t go outside. When the sun came out, they complained that they had nothing to do. Neighbors griped and groaned about neighbors, Parents about children, brother about sisters, Everybody has a problem, and everyone whined that someone should come do something about it. One day a peddler trudged into town, carrying a big basket on his back. When he heard all the fussing and sighing and moaning, he put his basket down and cried: “O citizens of this town! your fields are ripe with grain, your orchards heavy with fruit. Your mountains are covered by good, thick forests, and your valleys watered by the deep, wide rivers. Never have I seen a place blessed by such opportunity and abundance. Why are you so dissatisfied? Gather around me, and will show you the way to contentment.”
Now this peddler’s shirt was tattered and torn. His pants showed patches, his shoes had holes. The people laughed to think that someone like him could show them how to be content. But while they snickered, he pulled a long rope from his basket and strung it between two poles in the town square. Then, holding his basket before him, he cried: “People of Grumble Town! Whoever is dissatisfied, write your trouble on a piece of paper, and bring it and put it in this basket. I will exchange your problem for happiness!”
The crowd swarmed around him. No one hesitated at the chance to get rid of his trouble. Every man, woman, and child in the village scribbled a grumble onto a scrap of paper and dropped it into the basket.
They watched as the peddler took each grumble and hung it on the line. By the time he was through, troubles fluttered on every inch of the rope, from end to end. Then he said: “Now each one of you should take from this magic line the smallest trouble you can find.”
They all rushed forward to examine all the troubles. They hunted and fingered and pondered, each trying to pick the very smallest trouble. After a while the magic line was empty.
And behold! Each held in his hand the very same trouble he had put into the basket. Each had chosen his own trouble, thinking it was the smallest of all on the line.
From that day, the people of Grumble Town stopped grumbling all the time. And whenever anyone had the urge to whimper or whine, he thought of the peddler and his magic line.
Remember, if you want to be an effective leader follow Coach Wooden’s advise… Don’t whine, don’t complain, and don’t make excuses.
Images posted from Bing image searches.