Tuesday, May 17, 2011


First off, I would like to announce the winner of my blog book giveaway, so with no further ado, the winner is Amy H! I will contact you to ask if you would like a pdf or e-pub version for an e-reader or if you would prefer a print book, and then I will arrange getting it to you! Thanks to everyone who is following and spreading the word about my blog to your friends and family. It means so much to have such faithful readers. Many thanks to each one of you. Now back to the blog post for today:

I used to be a big complainer. I would get riled up over the smallest thing and feel free to tell everyone I know about my frustration. As I approach the mid-point of my life, I'm recognizing slowly how ineffective complaining is, when there I don't offer a solution to the problem I'm concerned about. On all of the committees I'm a part of, I've discovered a sure-fire way to stop complaining, and it works so well that I wanted to share it with all of you.

When someone identifies a problem and does not offer a solution, I suggest that they be in charge of fixing it. As an example, at an event I recently coordinated, someone complained about inadequate signage, and I said, "Perfect. Next year you can take on the signs and make sure they work better than they did this year."

Generally the person slinks away and is never heard from again, because working isn't what they had in mind. It is much easier to point out a problem than it is to actively work toward a solution. If you put someone in charge of what they are complaining about, then they really do have to put up or shut up, not to put too fine a point on it. Or at the very least, they stop voicing their loud displeasure so the atmosphere becomes more pleasant.

There are always ways to improve everything. The catch is that most of them require effort, or money, or time that most people don't want to give. And so we complain, because it's easier. But I find that the negative energy generated by a lot of complaints becomes so deafening that it's all anyone can hear, and it takes good moods and pops a hole in them, so everyone feels deflated and defeated.

Positivity is much harder to maintain, particularly in a group setting, but is the only thing that brings forward positive change. Sometimes we hear a lot of positive comments, and we feel wonderful, and then one person tells you what was wrong with the group or the event, and we end up fixating on that and all of the good things simply fade away.

I know that I'm in charge of my own attitude, and that I can choose to be positive or negative, regardless of what is happening around me. It's just that sometimes the complaining gets you down. At the school division meeting I was at last week, this question was raised: "If it takes a village to raise a child, what is your contribution?"

I loved that. It puts the responsibility back on each of us to step forward and give something of ourselves to educate our kids. We all have something to give, and ideas to make things better, and if we jump in with both feet, there is a chance for all of us to effect change.

It's easy to complain. It's hard to get involved. But the benefits of being involved are huge, compared to the "armchair critic" role which keeps you protected from being criticized yourself, but doesn't do anything but mire you in your own negative complaint cycle. All of us have something we can give.

Step forward and try something new today. If you see a chance to improve something, take it and run with it. You never know what will happen, but just maybe, you'll make a positive difference to a person or an organization that could last a lifetime.

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