This year, try the "No Complaining Rule"

  • Published
  • By Col. James D. Peccia
  • 97th Mission Support Group
With the calendar turning over once again, it's the perfect time for resolutions and reflection. Most of us are pretty good about resolutions, or at least in creating them, but following them can be a little more challenging and so can reflection. But this year, my resolution was to spend time reflecting and so I did. When I was finished, I came up with another resolution. - I'm going to refocus on the "No Complaining Rule."

I know, many of you are probably thinking I'm a genius for this idea, but as shocking as it may be, it's not mine. Jon Gordon actually wrote a book titled "The No Complaining Rule." I've read it a few times now and each time I gain something new, but the basic premise is complaining is natural for humans and we can make it either negative or positive. Please allow me to explain.

We've all participated in negative, mindless complaining in our lives. In my last job, I had the "opportunity" to brief all of our Air Education and Training Command general officers and senior leaders on a monthly basis. I dreaded those briefings with every fiber in my body. They always asked a great deal of questions, it was stressful, the preparation time was long, I would have to go through 20 different versions of PowerPoint slides and believe me I complained about it. I'm sure you've all had similar experiences. However, none of this complaining served any purpose - all it did was make me miserable.

One day my boss gave me "The No Complaining Rule" and before I could complain about it, he said, "Don't judge it until you have read it." So, I read it - and I was a changed man. I started looking forward to my monthly meeting with our senior officers. I started believing this was a great opportunity to brief them on the financial health of the command. Every question was another opportunity to educate them about something new. I found myself saying, "Yes, it's time again to start preparing for the briefing, but what a great chance to help shape and influence how this command operates on a daily basis." Somehow I had turned my negative complaining into a positive and it simply took a change in mindset.

Now, if you choose to read this book, Jon Gordon gives lots of examples and tools to help you through the transition from negative to positive thinking, but there are three basic rules. First, start interjecting the "but" into your thoughts... "I am stationed at Altus AFB, but I'm thankful for a job and for being in a community that supports us so well." Second, focus on the "get to" instead of the "have to." For example, before each briefing I would tell myself, "today, I get to help educate the most senior members of our command, how great is that?" Finally, turn complaints into solutions. In mindless complaining we focus on the problem. In "justified complaining" we focus on the solution, and there is satisfaction and empowerment in that.

So, if you haven't thought of a resolution yet, why not give "The No Complaining Rule" a shot - it just might help brighten your outlook on 2011.