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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Action over whinge

Whether in my coaching activities or with family and friends, complaining often seems to rise within our conversations or exchanges. While I have nothing against a good whinge from time to time I have become increasingly aware of how much time and energy we spend on complaining before we do something about it.

Many years ago, I used to work as Project Manager for Internet or video projects. We used to balance many different clients and missions at the same time and within very tight deadlines and budgets. Support from management was very seldom and the work was pretty stressful. So the opportunities for complaining were many. I remember spending all my lunch times whinging about such and such project or such and such client or such and such manager.

It felt good in the moment, as if I was fighting back by asserting my opinion and discontent. It also felt like a support group, whinging together with colleges created some kind of bond, but I much we debriefed and complaint amongst ourselves, or even to management, nothing seem to ever change and I left that job somewhat disappointed and with the impression of being powerless.

It was only years later that I realised the power I had even in situations that weren’t working in my favour. There were several things at play in my old behaviour. If something didn’t make sense to me or was making my life more difficult or was not well managed around me, my reflex was to complain about it and feel frustrated or outraged. I spend a lot of energy on that and it invariably proved to be of little use apart from some mild satisfaction in the moment. But if I’m honest it was exhausting.

When I started working for Brussels’ television BX1 as a voice over for their weather forecast program, all was going really well, I used to work between 8am to 10am preparing the content, recording it and sending it off. About 2 years in all sorts of road works and renovations starting popping left right and centre in my neighbourhood and adjacent flat. The noise this created was a big problem because I could not record properly in those conditions.

At the beginning I started complaining about it and I would carry anger on a daily basis that I should be hit with such rotten luck. I would record in between hammer hits and drilling bouts and I would become all flustered by the end of it, just about managing to deliver on time. It was very unpleasant.

Then I remembered something my therapist had said to me years before. He had said to me: “You always find ways to sort problems out; you are smart and resourceful. You easily put those skills at the disposal of others. It’s time you put them at your service.” At the time those words had not really taken their place but somehow my situation made them resonate within myself.

What if I believed I was really resourceful and that I could solve problems easily what would happen then? It didn’t take long before a flow of ideas came rushing to my brain. I could go and see the workmen and sort something out with them; they were also trying to do their jobs after all. When that didn’t work I thought I could also start my work earlier, before they started their day. And that’s exactly what I ended up doing, it meant that I had to get up as early as 6am and on some days 5am. I could have started complaining about that but something had shifted.

Instead of seeing this early rising as a constraint I started seeing it as a victory! A problem solved, thanks to me! I realised that believing in my capabilities was one useful thing but appreciating the results was another important part. Instead of whinging and cursing the doing of others I was dealing with the situation and congratulating myself in the process.

This put me in a whole new dynamic. Since that realisation I seldom complain about things, I tend to stop and look at a problematic situation and quickly determine what’s in my power within that given context and what I can do about.And if I manage to resolve the issue I make sure I congratulate myself for getting myself out of that pickle. It’s very uplifting and much more satisfying and useful than a whinge!

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1 Comment

Nov 29, 2021

great article, thanks a lot

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