“Leaders think and talk about the solutions. Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

We have all worked with “that guy” who constantly complained about everything. He or she had issues with every policy, where things were located and especially how undervalued they are. Most of us start off by listening politely and nodding along. We eventually make the choice to agree with them and hop on the negative train OR we distance ourselves from the person.

We have also worked with the person who heard a complaint or misunderstood a policy and decided to do something about it. She walked up to the boss and asked for clarity. He gathered data about how to create a smarter solution. We typically see something change as a result of their actions. We either receive a new way of doing things or we gain big picture clarity of why the problem exists.

I have never met a single person who would purposely choose option A and be the complainer by choice, but why do so many gravitate towards that option? I know I have been “that guy” on several occasions. Looking back it was because I failed to do two things: define a purpose and work towards that purpose.

Purpose in this context is not the in-the-clouds version that we can only define after climbing a mountain and sipping tea with the Dalai Lama. This purpose is more in-the-weeds and relates to what we are working towards. Are we trying to master our current role? Are we seeking a promotion? Are we just trying to finish a project?

Once we have a purpose, how are we working towards it? This is where we sort through the nuts and bolts to align our purpose with our actions. If my purpose is to master my current role, watching videos on YouTube or commenting on Facebook posts is not going to cut it. Instead, I need to be reading the regulations governing my job. I need to be learning from my boss and my peers. For this example, you need to ask yourself, “What do I want people to come to me for?” Then find ways to master it.

To put something into action today, think about that thing at work you shy away from. Do you put off writing award packages or some other routine task? You probably do this, because you don’t want to do a bad job. When we are really good at something, we look for ways to showcase it. So, learn how to get better at the other things. Next, ask yourself who the current expert is and ask them for advice. They will be excited to help you because it gives them a chance to showcase their talent. It is a true win-win.

We have the choice of whether we want to ride the negative train to nowhere and complain all day or do something to make our workcenter better. What option do you choose?

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