Don’t Complain. Be the Change!

Image Credit: Morguefile

The world is not often the way that we imagine it to be. Things might not work the way you expect. Our time is precious. If things aren’t designed clearly or efficiently, it can impact our lives profoundly and we express our frustrations to others in the form of complaints. Who wants to listen to that?

You might recognize some of these statements:

This thing doesn’t work.

Transit is broken.

Why haven’t we cured cancer already?

Why is there a lineup?

This is so boring.

I hate my job.

These are all statements that come from your inner child. They encapsulate the ability in all of us to recognize when things just aren’t quite right.

The easiest and most passive thing to do is to relay these complaints, like the stranger who ranted at me when I worked at Indigo Books back in the 90s. He complained loudly about how Indigo was an awful profiteering corporation. There were many alternative outlets he could have expressed to, and he could have chosen to simply walk by and not shop there. Instead, he ranted to me then apologized, saying it’s not an attack on me personally but at Indigo.

In retrospect, love it or hate it, I was young and employed. It was a lucky place for someone with modest roots, and still attending high school to be. Indigo also offered my community with a place to meet with friends, share knowledge and a venue to host gatherings. While yes, it is profiteering, it also provided value.

If this man started his own independent bookstore, he might have realized how hard it is to replicate this value to customers. Perhaps he would have a different perspective about Indigo.

We as complainers have so much to share but not enough compassion or empathy to take action. What if I told you it’s all about perspective — that people like yourselves who are the ones who created the world in which we live. You can make it better.

It’s the prime reason I became a designer. I too am a generator of complaints. Often, I will catch myself with these statements:

Why aren’t these products or services easier to use?
 Why in the world is this process so complex?

The difference is that I embrace these problems. It gives me a chance to roll up my sleeves and do something about it. In fact, we all have this ability to take action.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.
 — Ghandi

Now, let’s go back to some of those statements mentioned earlier. Imagine if you can do anything, be anything and solve any problem. Have you ever considered this perspective before? What would you do?

This thing doesn’t work

  • Have you looked into why it won’t work for you?
  • Have you Googled it?
  • Is there an alternative way to do this thing?

Transit is broken.

  • What would you do better?
  • How do you think it can improve?

Why haven’t we cured cancer already?

  • What have you done to contribute?
  • Have you considered being part of the solution?

Why is there a lineup?

  • Is there a better process you want to recommend to the establishment?

This is so boring.

  • What would make it more engaging for you?

I hate my job.

  • Why are you working there? What’s the alternative?
  • What would you rather be doing?
  • What is it about your job that you hate? How can you make it better?

Notice what happens when you ask yourself what you can do about that thing instead of complaining about it? How does it make you feel?

Now, think about how you can be that change. I guarantee it won’t be easy but you’ll feel better about it afterward.

Next time you feel the need to complain, think about what you would do to fix it. Talk about that solution. Take action from words. Maybe one day, there will be nothing left to complain about.

Imagine how amazing that would be.


Originally published at pdx.ca.

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