Last week I shared about the one easy thing you can do to make you come alive, and this has been drilling my head all week.
What Is The One Thing?
The one thing is ‘stop complaining’. But it is more than that; it is ‘go on a no complaint diet’ an idea I picked up in ‘The Power Of No’ by Claudia and James Altucher.
I got this book as soon as it hit the shelves in 2014, I used to say yes to everything, and it was killing me.
Since I first had a go at this in 2015, I have come to think it is the ultimate productivity tip, and it’s free!
How Does That Work?
There is a bit to unpack here, so stick with me there are a few examples, and then at the end, it will make sense.
We, I, you or whatever person you need to hear it in spend A LOT of time complaining.
I think I’m a ‘positive thinker’, but I have noticed a lot of ‘resigned and cynical’ ways of looking at the world creep into my world.
A negative remark disguised as an insight, ‘the only problem with London Underground…’ or ‘you would think they would…’ or ‘Why don’t they just…?’
The other one is the realist or devil’s advocate, secretly stamping on ideas in case they work or change the status quo.
I refer to my case here, when I look back long and hard at the last decade, the one thing that has kept me stuck is fear, not fear of falling off the Empire State Building or drowning in my bath.
Fear about moving out my comfort zone.
I got so used to the struggle, at ‘just making it’ and ‘living on the edge’ it became my preferred operating system.
The effort of learning something new was too much, even though I would tell you I wanted to change.
The Smart Quote
A big part of me loathes a quote, I read hundreds every day, and I am still not sure why I lust after them.
But here is one that I see every day, every time I open a new tab on my Google Chrome browser.
It has been there for five years.
“The easiest thing is to react.
The 2nd easiest is to respond.
But the hardest thing is to initiate.”
Only when I sat down to write this article did the connection with complaints, reaction and the point I am making occurred to me.
This also connects with our OuiShare Values about taking action, and part of the conversation around the action is not to sit around bitching about what other people are/are not doing.
Think of it as a ‘be the change you want to see’ thing.
What Do You Mean Initiate?
Suddenly I have all this extra time on my hands because I am not complaining.
Of course, I am so in the habit of reacting that I have to make a concentrated effort NOT to react.
Which feels like I walk right into a room that I don’t understand, it feels sinister, and I am uncomfortable being there.
And here is where the ‘hardest thing to do is initiate’ kicks in for me.
Before you think I am smart, trying to be smart or have it all worked out, I have to point out that I have been thinking about this for over five years.
Search For Meaning
My mate Viktor Frankl talks about the space between stimulus and response being where ‘choice’ lives.
And that room I walk into is where my choice is; it is where I can initiate.
With my son, I can either shout at him, which I do and then we both know I have lost, or wait and ask him questions about what we can do.
When I am working, I can choose to set a timer and only work on that task.
Or I can choose to ignore what works.
Just Before You Go
Don’t confuse this with Psycho-positive-in-denial thinking, The Secret Movie
This article here makes my point wonderfully: 7 Popular “Self-Help Tips” That Are F**king Up Your Life.
So my ultimate productivity tip is not a new app bit or software, it is not even a change of attitude.
It is simply to make an effort to cut out anything that smells like a complaint and do something else instead, like take action and be the change you want to see.
Also published on Medium.