Blog #625 No Whining

No Whining!!!

The article starts “One of my senior clients used to keep a “no whining” sign in her office. It seemed odd to have the sign so prominently displayed at a senior executive level. After all, the managers that walked into that office were not children, but mature adults with collective responsibility for thousands of employees. Why would they whine instead of just solving problems?”

“The reality is that all of us whine, complain, blame others, and try to avoid responsibility. It’s part of the human condition. Nobody likes to clean up problems caused by others — or admit that they’ve created problems themselves. We also try to preserve a positive self-image and we go to great lengths to get others to perceive us positively as well. Given these basic human dynamics, most of which are unconscious, it’s often easier to talk to colleagues about what somebody else is doing wrong. At worst we’ll get sympathy. At best, we’ll convince someone else to take care of the problem.”

I remember (all too well) a situation where I was sure I was right (of course), and I really wanted to whine and sulk and eventually when it all worked out, I wanted to gloat.  “Nah nah, I was right and you were wrong!!” But, really what would that accomplish? I’d feel good (that’s okay isn’t it), I was in the right (that’s okay isn’t it as well). But, what about the other person – I put them down.

John Wooden – famed basketball coach at UCLA, had these three points in his philosophy: The second set of three dealt with how to handle adversity:

-1 Don’t whine.

-2 Don’t complain.

-3 Don’t make excuses.

Life is not fair.  John Wooden has a story about how his father (a farmer) borrowed money to buy some pigs; then he borrowed more to get the pigs vaccinated.  The vaccine was bad and all the pigs died. His father lost the farm because of this. Not fair. Yes, his father could have taken the vaccine maker to court (not a basketball court!!) and sued to get his money (and farm) back.  That would have taken time (and more money). Instead, his father took it in stride and moved on.

In the United States (and probably all around the world), people tend to whine – “it isn’t fair”.  And, it might not be fair. But sometimes it is better to “turn the other cheek”. And move on. There is another expression – ‘You can’t fight city hall’.  The city decided it needed better roads and just took part of your property for the roads (and did compensate you for it). But, you thought it wasn’t enough and fought it.  (Like a distant relative did when a new road was being built).

Now that I am older (and closer to death), and in my values believe in a heaven, an afterlife of some nature.  Do I want to be kind and forgiving for something that wasn’t fair, but something that maybe I can’t control? Do I want to fight, or yield and realize that ultimately God (if you believe in a God) will judge the people involved.  

So, I’m trying to go by John Wooden’s philosophy – don’t whine, don’t make excuses, and don’t complain.  In the long run, you will be happier. Turn it over to God, and get it out of your mind.

Yes, there are times I WANT to whine, I WANT to complain, and I WANT to make excuses – but will it make any difference?

Maybe I am too nice?  Who knows?


Posted by Bruce White

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