I read The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work by Jon Gordon yesterday. It was a quick read as I was able to finish it in about an hour. I read it not because I am dealing with negativity at work, but because I was having one of those life moments where I really needed to be inspired by something. At first glance this book would seem to be a lesson in how to deal with the difficult people and environments we may encounter at work. However, it is much more than that.
Actually what Jon Gordon has done in this book is remind us of a simple (but often forgotten) axiom about life: life can/will be challenging at times and we can choose how we respond to this challenge. Gordon presents complaining as a toxic force:
..but in the long run complaining creates a cycle of negativity that feeds itself and grows. When we complain we feed the negativity
He asks us to think about why we complain. Most often it is because we feel helpless or scared or because it has become a habit. I added the emphasis there because I strongly believe that this is the reason many of us complain. I think a lot of complaints start from a place of fear or uncertainty, but then they perpetuate out of habit. I have watched this happen and it is horribly amazing. My strategy when dealing with this has always been to respond to the complainers with, “If you wan’t to complain you need to bring me a solution to go along with it.” This always received weird looks or was met with anger. I’m thinking that is a sure sign of a habitual complainer. Gordon’s book reinforced that this approach is the right one.
If we pay attention to our thoughts, words and complaints, we will learn a lot about what we don’t want and don’t like. We can then use what we don’t want and don’t like as a catalyst to help us determine what we do want and do like.
Every complaint represents an opportunity to turn something negative into a positive.
The book provides a plan to reduce the amount of complaining in your life. Start with a No Complaining Day and then turn that day into a week, a month, a year. Observe the thoughts, feelings and words we use to really see how much complaining we actually do. Do something else instead of complaining. He offers the following alternatives: practice gratitude, praise others, focus on success, let go and pray and meditate.
I found this book so inspiring and it was the wake up call that I needed at this moment in my life. The book is presented as a guide for dealing with your work environment, but I call BS on that! Yes, this all applies to work, but I can’t help thinking that this is truly a life lesson. Particularly this sentiment which I highlighted, underlined and drew stars next to:
Staying positive is not about putting on a fake smile or believing you can do it all yourself. Rather it’s about being optimistic and living with hope and having faith. The measure of our success will not be determined by how we act during the great times in our life but rather by how we think and respond to the challenges of our most difficult moments.
This! This is what I needed to be reminded at this moment in time. Just reading that I feel 100% happier and confident and reassured about my life. I can choose which path I’m on. And if I fall off the positive path I can always pick myself up and get back on it.
To sort of bring this full circle: lately I have been reading a lot of Libraryland posts that have seemed kinda negative and frustrated. I will not invalidate, devalue, or discredit the thoughts and feelings behind them because I understand where a lot of it is coming from and I think the discussions are necessary and productive. My advice to folks these days is to continue productive discussion, keep an open mind, carefully choose words and let go of things that our beyond your control.
If I had to choose one sentence from this book that really resonated with me and was a true reminder about work and life it is this one:
Never doubt your teammates, because when they are under pressure they will do something amazing.
I think an amazing change is coming. It’s just going to take some time.