Monday, January 8, 2018

Lip Service or Actual Service?

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

The secret is to gang up on the problem, rather than each other. - Thomas Stallkamp

I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s; I will not reason and compare: my business is to create. - William Blake

While my blog writing has taken a backseat to a number of personal and professional projects over the last couple of years, I’m always intrigued by the stats of my readership and the reaction to my blog posts.

While I have mused on many things over the years including but not limited to inspirational stuff, business thoughts, strategic planning, tactical execution, warnings to society and such, by far the single largest group of readers and the largest amount of emotion that I generate come from posts where I call politicians out for doing something inappropriate against the best interests of the people they claim to serve or for allowing themselves to be placed in a position of compromise to the detriment of themselves, their staff or the people they claim to serve.

While many people have egos that would be inflated by the reaction I get from such posts, I am largely unaffected by the praise (or criticism) I receive because I write the posts for strategic, ethical and moral reasons and not for ego-based ones.

The other complexity from such posts is that many readers who are inspired by such posts think I write them because I enjoy skewering people (thus fitting into something they like to do).  If they knew me personally, they would know that such beliefs are a gross misunderstanding of who I am.

The reality is that I don’t skewer people purposefully and I don’t enjoy the fact that it may appear to be my intention.  In fact, the reason I write such posts is not to skewer the individual but to invite a correction or enhancement of behavior with an idea towards creating a better result.  It is not my place to judge an individual although it may appear that I am doing just that when I critique their behavior – I leave it to Someone greater than I to judge the individual.

And so the majority of people who like such posts fall, sadly, into one or more of the following groups.

Group One – The Call to Action Ends With Lip Service

Many people love to complain and to have their complaint heard, whether in the coffee shop, in public demonstrations or on social media.  Ask people to take additional measurable action to correct what upsets them and suddenly there is silence in the room.

Try telling these people that their frustration will grow unabated if they don’ take measurable action (instead of mistaking complaining alone for action), and they don’t hear you – they’ve already moved on to the next complaint or person who supports their complaint-centric model of execution.  Many of these people also seek to be offended so that their need to complain finds a justification to attach itself to.  As the old adage goes – some people aren’t happy unless they’re miserable.

Group Two – I Have Too Much to Risk – I Need You To Take a Stand

A lot of people send complaints, salacious comments, “dirt” or insider information to me and other people who are not afraid to use their voice and ask, implore or demand that I / we reveal it.  When I inform them that stuff of importance to them should be revealed by them, I am told that “I’ve got too much to risk – you have to do it” (this includes people who serve on boards who discover inappropriate or illegal behavior and demand that people like me reveal it because they are “too important” to be involved in the imminent explosion).

I / we have things to risk also and what is a priority to someone else may not be a priority to me / us (and there is always the risk that someone else’s “irrefutable data” may be so vaporous as to put people like myself and others at risk).

By the way, this group also includes the people who believe that they can solve problems by bashing people while hiding behind anonymous social media accounts, email accounts, etc.  Standing up for what you believe in has more credibility when you are willing to be identified.

Group Three – I’m Too Busy

If you’re literally too busy, then it means that the thing you are complaining about is less important than other things that occupy your day. 

If that is the case, honor such priorities and stop complaining since we should put our time, energy and money into our priorities and avoid the things that distract us from those priorities.

Group Four – I’m Not _________ Enough (insert connected, strong, etc.)

History is filled with people that on first blush would have been considered not influential enough, smart enough, connected enough, etc.  Ask the Google god for examples – they are too numerous to list here.

Group Five – I’m Too Lazy, I’m Not Focused, My Own Purpose in Life is not Defined

Rarely admitted by people who suffer from such random execution, their Life is like a guided missile roaming around looking for a target.  Complaining is easy and requires little effort – strategic, intelligent and purposeful execution is neither.  Enough said.

I’m sure there are other groups that people fight to be members of through their preference for complaining over action and results.

While specifics about what defines the reasons for inaction vary, we rarely solve problems by merely fretting or complaining about them or by mistaking any activity (including complaining) for productivity.

The Bottom Line

Unless you’re in a country where participating in a public demonstration can get you shot or imprisoned, it takes little courage to participate in such actions.  Although the actions may initially be useful, they require follow-up action in many situations to become truly effective.

Unless you choose to do something highly illegal, immoral or unethical (translation: something highly ignorant) by threatening people using social media, complaining on social media rarely accomplishes much.  Social media has its place as a tool for sharing information or executing a call to action but action is still necessary after the “recruits” show up.  In such situations, action is more than a hashtag.

Complaining in coffee shops will do little more than cause you to eat too many donuts or drink too much coffee.

Action matters.

Results matter.

Find a way to collaborate and if collaboration is rejected, ignored or soundly attacked, then find other strategic, intelligent and purposeful ways to accomplish your objective and create solutions in the world.

If you’re not interested in bringing your time, energy, talents, strengths, skills, knowledge (and yes, sometimes money) to the table to create solutions, please stop complaining.  There’s enough useless, purposeless, negative noise in the world – don’t add to it.

If you’re complaining because in reality, you can’t honestly answer the questions “Who am I?”, “What do I stand for?”, “Why do I exist?”, “Where am I going?” and “How can I make the world a better place with the gifts that I have?” and your energy is therefore being misdirected into complaining or other negative behavior out of frustration over a misdirected Life, please find someone who can help you answer those questions in a healthy way.  You and the world will be better off as a result.

The Bottom Bottom Line

If I’m going to finish my day exhausted, having put every ounce of energy I have into creating what is within my reach to create, is it better to do so having moved the world the tiniest measure closer to something better or to have exhausted myself and those around me with meaningless complaints?

How do you like to view your results for the day?

How would you like others to view your results?

Does it matter or are you preparing to complain that you don’t like what I just said?

Create a great day because merely having one is too passive an experience.

In service and servanthood,


PS: I am entertaining an experiment with an offer to a specific group of people.  I will add additional info here when the experiment is complete.