Whine if You Must, But Make It Quick – and Get Changed

Being a coach has its moments when I forget if I am the coach or the client.

As I add a new service to my coaching offerings, I’m struck by a familiar place of starting something new with a lot of energy and positivity, imagining a future of working with some really great people, helping them resolve issues and challenges and design their own futures, and delivering a comprehensive and robust value-added experience for all.

Then without warning… this wave washes over me, and I begin to notice that I am devolving into deep and ungrateful whining, blaming and generally negative nelly-ness, and other ugly spiraling behavior that does not suit my generally calm, sunny and positive outlook on life.

There is a story that many of us tell ourselves. Change is hard, we say. And truthfully, that’s a story. Change doesn’t have to be hard. Change is just change until we attach emotions and behaviors to it that tell us that it’s hard.

It happens to all of us.  If you are one of those leaders or business owners who choose to do things that are challenging and unconventional, creative and scary, new and different, you know what I’m talking about.  Yes, we choose to put ourselves into places of great change, and like gravity, our dreams and ideas turn into whining, bitching and complaining.

Starting something new or setting yourself apart means that there will be both good days and some that challenge you to the core. I have a colleague who told me that the first day she left her corporate job and started out on her own, she woke up, walked across her bedroom to her arm chair, sat down and promptly bawled her eyes out, rehashing all of her “what was I thinking” questions. Then she took a shower, grabbed coffee and started her new job.  We’ve all been there at one time or another.

One of your greatest assets is reminding yourself of the purpose and intention behind the change that you are making, and reconnecting with why you wanted to start something new in the first place.

Here are some tips for being empathetic to yourself, and perhaps those around you, by acknowledging your normal human behavior and helping you shift back to that place where you started, that place of positivity and possibility:

  • Remind yourself of your “why.” This TED talk by Simon Sinek called “Start With Why” continues to inspire me on days that feel tough.  
  • Allow yourself a short window of time to acknowledge what’s going on with you, and commence the venting. Writing your concerns down so you can see them is even better. Give yourself some time to reflect on your concerns, then ask yourself, “What’s up with this?”
  • Phone a friend or colleague, who can empathize with your situation, and also hold you accountable for hearing yourself. Ask them to help you identify what’s true, and what is speculation or something else.
  • Let it out. Get going. Move. Go make something happen. And treat yourself with the same compassion that you would a friend or colleague who is simply having a moment. 

With your whine out in front, recommit to your vision as a leader and a starter of something new. Complaining is part of the human condition, but you don’t have to be held hostage by it. Use your whine to get to the root of the problem, and then get on with the change.