Don’t Whine, Complain or Make Excuses

Don't whine, complain or make excuses

Don’t whine, complain or make excuses

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to explore the significance and application of the maxim “Don’t whine, complain or make excuses.”

First a quick update:

“Persuasion and influence secrets”
Find out the secrets to persuasion and influence that they don’t want you to know, and before it is too late. Read my article here.

Now, let’s talk about the significance and application of the maxim “Don’t whine, complain or make excuses.”

“Reminds me of another set of threes that my dad tried to get across to us. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses. Just get out there, and whatever you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability. And no one can do more than that.” – John Wooden, former UCLA basketball coach whose team won 10 national championships in 12 years

Coach Wooden trained his team to focus on their own performance rather than continuously comparing themselves to other players and teams: “Never try to be better than someone else, always learn from others.” Watch John Wooden explain his philosophies here.

In other words, his message also incorporates taking responsibility for your outcomes, for your results.

When things go wrong, it is an almost automatic response for us to begin to whine – to protest in a childish manner.

It is also an automatic response to then begin to complain – express feelings of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment; to express negative emotions such as frustration, anger, disappointment, dejection and so forth.

From there, most of us continue to make excuses about why things went wrong and those excuses usually lead to blame:

We blame everyone else.

“It’s his fault. It’s the Government’s fault, etc”

Perhaps there are situations where someone actually let us down and failed to fulfill their role or responsibility and as a result it directly affected us. However, every time that we blame someone else for the outcome, we automatically engage ‘victim mode’ and then we lose sight of the solution to the problem.

“There’s no discourse anymore. There’s no conversation. There’s just blame. You know how blame is described in the research [on shame]? A way to discharge pain and discomfort.” –  Dr. Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work:

The negative effect of whining, complaining, making excuses and blaming self or others is that our energy is wasted in a way that will not change the outcome, nor relieve us of our pain. Note here that I am not saying that certain situations require a grieving process; they do. However, I am suggesting that you take a careful look at each outcome along with your response and next determine the best course of action. Staying stuck in the emotion or staying stuck in the drama only worsens the situation and prevents you from coming out of the mire and turning a bad situation into something good.

You may have heard the expression “Things always turn out for the best” but this is totally false and inaccurate.

In John Wooden’s words, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

There are people who respond to bad events by losing all hope, giving up and taking no action. There are also people who choose to not only reframe the situation and event but choose to find a way to survive and overcome the event and even the potential suffering.

Read my article “God, the apes and happiness” about the story of Victor Frankl (a Viennese neurologist and psychiatrist) who spent three years in a concentration camp: Frankl went on to notice that the people who had the greatest chance of surviving their suffering were those who held tightly to the future vision of being reunited with their loved ones.

“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

Simply summed up, the admonition by John Wooden, handed down to him by his father, is: instead of whining and complaining, take action – do your best.

However, three centuries before, the Dutch philosopher, Baruch Spinoza said it differently, and referred to taking specific action:

“Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.”

Spinoza was saying do not whine or cry and do not speak out with anger or indignation. Instead take action by seeking to ‘understand’ – understand yourself, the situation and others.

The moment you choose to understand the reasons for the event (the response and actions by everyone involved) the more power you have to change or transform your response and the outcome. When you decide to gain understanding and perspective of what happened and why it happened, you immediately rise from a position of victimhood (helplessness and hopelessness) to a position that offers the opportunity to create a new outcome and new destiny.

Thus, both basketball coach John Wooden and philosopher Baruch Spinoza are also suggesting that we take responsibility for our lives (the ability to make moral or rational decisions on one’s own and therefore answerable for one’s behavior.)

Ask yourself: “How did I contribute to this outcome? What mistakes did I make? What can I learn from this situation? What can I do differently now and next time? What can I do right now to change this situation? What can I do to transform this outcome into a better outcome?”

We can sit back or fall down and whine, cry, complain, blame ourselves and others, beat up ourselves and others and stay stuck in the pain and drama, losing all hope, giving away our power, reducing ourselves to a small boat being tossed in a storm by the gale winds and high waves or we can take responsibility, take the helm and steer a new course for our lives.

“There are seldom, if ever, any hopeless situations, but there are many people who lose hope in the face of some situations.” – Zig Ziglar

Which do you choose?

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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