“You know what I hate most?” my godfather almost screamed at me. “I hate complainers”.
This is a man I have huge respect for and, as time passes by, I continue to be amazed by him. He has passed the 40 years old mark and he is a true role-model for me and my wife on how to tackle life while being completely devoted to his family. He started as a seaman in his early 20s and since then he worked on almost any type of ships doing anything it was required of him. At some point he had the guts to re-evaluate his future perspectives and took the decision to stay home for 5 years and graduate the naval academy institution. This was a bold and difficult decision as it implied a heavily cut of revenues during this 5 years period but this would give him the right to dream at a much better job in the near future.
Now he is still on track with pursuing his long-term plan. But it’s so hard. At 41 years old he has just finished the naval academy and he is regarded as simple cadet (no matter how many experience he has as seaman). You may imagine that this makes the job of finding engagements in this new role much more harder but… you’ll never see him complain. He knows, he is fully confident that he will get through this challenge too.
“Let me tell you what I mean” my godfather continued after calming himself a bit. “In my seaman years I have to admit that I’ve had my share of easy-money jobs. But I was also forced to accept some really tough ones too. From cleaning filthy water filters while staying in harbors to learning how to use transmission equipments as big as this house in a matter of days – these were really tough jobs. But I did them because, at that time, this was my job and this was expected from me. And I have never complained.”
He stopped for a bit and he looked like he was forcing himself to start a difficult topic. “I will never forget my Nord Sea fishing time…” he continued with a soft voice like he was announcing a defeat. “It was a crazy time. We were working 6 days per week and we were not allowed to sleep more than 15-20 minutes every 3-4 hours. The waves were bigger than this house and we had to have ropes around our bodies to not slip into the sea. At night the work kept going. We were not able to see the waves so we’ve learned to hear and anticipate the danger. In the 7th day of the week we were allowed to stay in a motel room. I still remember my fingers being so swollen that I was not able to close my fist. Every piece of m body was hurting like hell.”
He seemed to look beyond me while he was remembering all these things. Then, suddenly, he realized that I was there, and he addressed to me with a new found energy: “But you know what? I’ve never complained. This was what I signed-up for, right? This was my job. It was hard, you cannot imagine how hard and, at some point, I’ve realized that I cannot go on like this. So what I was suppose to do? Complain? Hell no! I took action. I have accepted that something needs to change and I knew that if I do not do it, no-one will do it for me. So I’ve started looking for something else and, as soon as I got the opportunity, I moved to another job. After 6 weeks I made the move. Less money but it was the right decision for me and my family.”
“I simply do not understand and cannot stand complainers. To me, it’s only about decisions YOU must take about your life. If you end-up discovering that something is no longer right for you, why complaining about it would do any good? To me the more natural thing to do is to simply make a decision on how to deal with that situation: make a change or not. “Not making any change” is also a decision! But you should better make-up your mind and move on with your life instead of endlessly and hopelessly complain… Who’s gonna TAKE CONTROL of your life if you don’t? Who should make these decisions for you if you don’t? Conclusions like “It was out of my hands” or “There was nothing I could do about it” just drive me crazy. There is ALWAYS something that can be done and it’s YOUR responsibility to figure it out. NOBODY ELSE’S!”
Common sense, right? And yet, I could not get rid off the feeling of deep shame when I was thinking about the countless examples of myself complaining about my issues instead of… well… SOLVING them. All of us have our moments when we believe that we have taken too many hits, when all seems overwhelming and that we should simply give up. And then we start complaining because this seems the easiest thing to do. That’s the moment when we need a cold shower, a reset, a boost of confidence, a wake up to reality. This is exactly what I have received that evening from my godfather and I have realized once again how lucky I am to have him close to me.