It seems that I've been reading a lot. Of course, this can only be a good thing. I think it's been said somewhere that reading feeds the mind and as we all know, if you don't feed the mind it dies. So...I've been reading. No, I'm not saying that I feel like my brain is dying, I'm just trying to up my learning curve.
I never planned to go into church music, although there are those who will say that I have no say in "the plan," but I really don't believe that. I believe that life happens. This position became available and I took it. But I digress...this isn't theological today.
Since I wasn't planning on working in a church, I didn't study churches, church culture, or church music in college. It's not like I didn't have the opportunity. I went to a private Methodist college. And I was there a looooooong time. Opportunity and time were on my side. It wasn't something that particularly interested me.
Now, because of my position, I have to have an interest. Well, I don't have to, but I want to do well and have an excellent program, so I do have an interest. In this vein I've been reading a lot...as I mentioned, to up my learning curve.
Just last night I read "The No Complaining Rule" by Jon Gordon. GREAT book! I'm not a fast reader, unlike my sister and dad. They both seem to read millions of pages a week while I've had this book on my coffee table for nearly six months. I finally decided to pick up this book last night since there wasn't anything on the TV. Well, mainly "Brothers and Sisters" wasn't on...and if you haven't watched this show....WATCH IT! It's good!!
Anyway...I digress again. "The No Complaining Rule" is about exactly what it says: no complaining. Not cutting out complaining completely, but cutting out mindless, negative complaining and keeping useful, positive complaining that can help yield results and action.
I really liked this book. It wasn't very long and I finished it in 2 hours. A pretty big feat for me, since I prefer to read for comprehension instead of for speed or leisure. A big part of the book was laying out a plan to implement the No Complaining Rule and how to deal with complaints.
Even before reading this book I've tried to curtail complaining in my programs. For instance, in my biggest choir, we sometimes listen to our performance from the Sunday before. I ask people to think of how this could have been a better performance, but to also think of solutions and something positive. This usually weeds out the people in the group who are just looking for an outlet to complain about how flat we are, or how bad we sound (even when we don't sound bad at all!)
Unfortunately, I find personally I complain a lot. I complain to coworkers. I complain to family. I complain to my wife. If I were the other person, I would have already told myself to shut up. Or I would have just cut ties with myself. Either way, a negative outcome.
I try not to complain, but sometimes you just can't help it. At least that is what this book is saying. You CAN help it. You can still complain...rather I can still complain, but only if I accompany those complaints with positive action to get positive results. Complaints are a barometer (it's said thermometer - for you Seinfeld fans) and show that if something isn't working, then there is obviously something wrong. The pressure valve is complaints. That's when they can be used in a positive way.
This book recommends you try doing a "complaining fast" for one day, then a week, then a month, then forever. I think I'm going to try it. In fact, I would challenge anyone who reads this that you try it too. Write down all the complaints you have for a day and see how many you actually have. Then see which of those complaints you control and which you don't. The ones you don't control can just be "let go." The ones you do control...try to think of positive solutions to those complaints.
I know this seems silly, but perhaps no complaining is part of the answer to having success and happiness. I know I don't like to be around people who complain too much, so this is my positive solution...to spread the No Complaining Rule to all of you.
On a side note, another great Jon Gordon book to read is "Death By Meeting." This book goes through a plan to make meetings more successful and bearable. It has a lot more steps to it and is a lot more complicated, meaning you almost have to be in a leadership position to implement it, but it's still a great theory and well written book.