Creative LeadershipCreativity

Be Careful of People Who Constantly Complain About Their Job

Work is hard. It’s hard for me, it’s hard for you, and pretty much everybody else. So when I encounter someone who’s constantly complaining about their job, how difficult life is, or how busy they are, I tend to start ignoring them. It’s not that I’m a jerk, it’s that I find far too many people who try to impress us with how many balls they’re juggling, how difficult their job is, and how their schedule is just crammed too full. Novelist Richard Ford said something similar about writers:

“Beware of writers who tell you how hard they work. (Beware of anybody who tries to tell you that.) Writing is indeed often dark and lonely, but no one really has to do it. Yes, writing can be complicated, exhausting, isolating, abstracting, boring, dulling, briefly exhilarating; it can be made to be grueling and demoralizing. And occasionally it can produce rewards. But it’s never as hard as, say, piloting an L-1011 into O’Hare on a snowy night in January, or doing brain surgery when you have to stand up for 10 hours straight, and once you start you can’t just stop. If you’re a writer, you can stop anywhere, any time, and no one will care or ever know. Plus, the results might be better if you do.”

The same goes for most jobs (except maybe a L-1011 pilot on a snowy night in January or a brain surgeon). A few years ago I got frustrated with traveling all the time, and started complaining to everyone about my intense travel schedule. Then I realized two things:

1. I get to do this.  I get to travel around the globe, see amazing things, work with remarkable people, and coach some of the most talented leaders in the world. Certainly air travel, hotels, and constant time zone changes can be a pain, but what a privilege.
2. I chose this.  This is my life. I could stop any time and become a salesman, teach in college, join a church or ministry full-time, or get some other job with relatively normal hours and little or no travel. So it’s time to put up or shut up.

Ever since that realization, I’ve stopped complaining and started embracing my job, my travel schedule, and my life. And guess what? People are grateful that I’m not complaining anymore.

We all have it hard. We don’t need to impress each other with the difficulty of our job. Besides, if you really want to impress them, inspire them. That will make a real difference.

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