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Best of CoBiz: Stop toxic brain waste

TC North //August 20, 2013//

Best of CoBiz: Stop toxic brain waste

TC North //August 20, 2013//

Most people whine, complain and make excuses. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Gary, a typical company owner, about a high-performance coaching program for his sales team:

TC: “Gary, there are some specific guidelines for participants in this program, including no whining, complaining or excuses during the coaching period.”

Gary (grabbing his head with his hands just above each ear as if in pain): “TC, if my salespeople can’t whine, complain or make excuses, I’m gonna have a sales team … that doesn’t talk!”

Unfortunately, this is often the situation. Most people – certainly most underperformers – whine, complain and make excuses. It’s comforting to those who don’t want to take responsibility for their bad results or situations. Conversely, world-class athletes and business leaders and top selling sales professionals take full responsibility for their outcomes and seldom whine, complain or make excuses. When things go badly, high-performing individuals and high-performance teams look in the mirror to figure out what to change to improve things.

Whining, complaining and excuses make you a victim of your own negative thinking.

They are also disempowering, and lower self-esteem and self-confidence. In high-performance cultures and high-performance teams and organizations, there’s little to no whining, complaining or excuses. People take full responsibility for deadlines, goals and mistakes. This is one of the greatest differentiators of all high-performance culture characteristics!

From 2008 through 2010, three really tough years in the U.S. economy, high-performing CEOs and sales professionals took complete responsibility for their results. They didn’t point fingers or blame the economy; they constantly pursued what they could do to thrive in the current situation. During those three years, I know several businesses and three realtors who had their best years ever!

These realtors never whined, complained or made excuses while others did; they put all of their energy into creating opportunities. Of course, there are a significant number of businesses and realtors who went out of business during the recessionary years, lending support to Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory. Whining, complaining and excuses make you weak.

So, how do you stop?

1. Make a decision that you want to and will stop.

2. Enlist others to hold you to your commitment.

3. Avoid toxic brain waste. We don’t choose to expose ourselves to radioactivity because it can cause mild sickness or even death. But to a great extent, we do choose the people we spend time with, and some people are as emotionally toxic to our minds – and, therefore, our success and happiness – as plutonium is to our bodies. Emotional toxicity is so prevalent in our lives that we usually don’t even recognize it; it’s as invisible as radiation. Whining, complaining and excuses are all emotional toxic waste (additionally, so are blaming, justifying and shaming). They hurt your self-esteem and confidence and make you think and feel like a victim.

Negative emotions spread like a virus. Avoid exposure and build immunity. How can you help your business team, your family or any other team eliminate whining, complaining and making excuses?

Here’s a simple and entertaining technique I’ve witnessed working with groups of executives, entrepreneurs and sales professionals. It’s called the two-buck rule. Everyone involved agrees that anytime they whine, complain or make an excuse, they must immediately put $2 in a pot used only for collecting these donations.

If the person doesn’t have $2, he or she writes an IOU and puts it in the pot. Your group decides in advance what to do with the money collected. My preference is to donate it to a charity everyone can get behind, like the United Way. No one in the group should financially benefit; that would be counterproductive.

Does your company culture allow for meeting stragglers who always cause meetings to start late? What if your team committed to starting meetings on time and no excuses were acceptable for being late? If you do, then implement the two-buck rule. It’s $2 for every five minutes you’re late, with a maximum of $10.

Make a difference. The two-buck rule is beginning to spread through teams and companies and is helping eliminate the emotional toxicity of whining, complaining and excuses – as well as improving the efficiency and effectiveness of meetings. How about starting the two-buck rule with your team or family? How about joining a small group of successful, small entrepreneurs who practice high-performance principles? Go here for more information.