You must be the change you want to see in the world.
The first time I saw that quote was when Erin Gruwell signed my copy of The Freedom Writers Diary. At the time I thought it was a nice, simple note but didn’t give it a lot of thought. I’m not sure why, but recently I’ve seen more and more instances where I wish people, myself included, would take that simple bit of advice.
We all know someone who loves to complain. They’ve got an opinion about anything and everything and can find fault with any situation you present them with, but when you ask that person about how they would make the situation better, or what they’re doing to fix it they shrug it off and say that it’s not their responsibility, or that they have better things to do. They are also very good at telling everyone about a problem, except anyone who can actually do something to fix the situation. Talking to their friends about how their boss is overbearing, or their coworkers about how their spouse is lazy, etc. What is that going to accomplish?
If there’s something you have a problem with, talk with someone who actually has the ability to affect the situation. When you’re having that conversation, instead of just ranting about how you don’t like it, present potential solutions to the problem. They may seem unfeasible, but throwing out a few ideas can spark a brainstorming session that could result in something even better than just solving the initial issue.
More often than not, whatever you have a problem with is dependent on players you have no control over, but there’s one person you always have complete control over, yourself. Leading by example is huge, and if you take the time to do what you consider to be the right thing, other people will see that and in more cases than you may realize, become inspired by it.
It’s much more effective to be the person who takes the time to volunteer, get in shape, work on changing the arcane policy that no one likes at your job, etc. than to just sitting around griping about it. Am I guilty of being a complainer from time to time? You bet I am, but I’m working on trying be a better example, and after reading this post, hopefully you will too.