Help Bail the Boat or Abandon Ship; Either Way Stop Complaining

Help Bail the Boat or Abandon Ship; Either Way Stop Complaining

“Not telling the truth is the quickest way of turning yourself into a stranger.” ~Mark W. Parrott

***Sound the alarm. Incoming rant. Take cover.***

Do you tell the truth?

Think twice before answering.

Most of us don’t. We lie every day in myriad ways, to ourselves and others.

We can lose ourselves in our lies.

Becoming a truth-teller—in your family, or workplace, or with yourself—is a sign of caring and maturity; caring enough to speak up, mature enough to risk ridicule, and strong enough to face rejection.

It takes courage to do that.

Still, we often label truth-tellers as “up-starts” or trouble-makers. They “upset the apple cart” and point out the rotten fruit. They hold up a mirror and say, “See?”

It’s not easy to point out truth; it’s lonely and tiring. Yet, it is, at its very core, the key to freedom.

“The truth shall set you free.” Yeah, but it comes with a cost.

Some people will ignore you, some will get angry and others will respond with euphemisms like “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” or “It could be worse” or “Why rock the boat?”

I’ll tell you why: sometimes the boat is sinking and it’s time to pay attention.

This applies, in my humble opinion, to almost every single organization, system and business today.

It applies to our educational, political and religious organizations.

It applies to our economic, ecological and biological systems.

It applies to our families, friends and colleagues.

If we don’t start telling one another and ourselves the truth—instead of hoping things will get better, or wishing they were like the “good old days”—the boat will continue to take on water.

The good old days are gone. GONE. These are the only days we have and it’s up to each and every one of us to make them “good” ones.

And you cannot do that if you’re lying to yourself or those you care about.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer

I coach a lot of people. I listen to loads more than I coach. I hear them complain. I ask them, “have you told the person(s) this?”

And then I hear responses (read: rationalizations) like “well, no…” or “why bother” or “it wouldn’t do any good” or “I don’t want to make it worse.”

Bullshit. You’re a coward. How’s that for truth?

If you do not address your concerns proactively, you have no right to complain about them. You’re blaming, bitching and bloviating. Stop it.

And stop waiting for people to figure it out on their own. People don’t know what they don’t know until someone tells them. That’s why we hire consultants, or therapists, or tutors.

Did you ever entertain the notion that maybe, just maybe, if you took a chance and spoke up, that you might actually make the situation a little better? That your friend, family member or colleague might thank you for the input, might acknowledge your courage? That your single voice added to the throng might be the one to get through?

An analogy:

If you were standing on the shore and saw a boat sinking right in front of you, you’d likely try to sound an alarm and get some help. You wouldn’t need to get help for your personal safety yet morally most people I know would attempt to offer some kind of assistance to those in danger.

But if you were a passenger ON that boat, you would not have a choice; you would be required to help in order to survive.

Except, here’s the thing: you are on that boat. You may think you’re on the shore, but if you’re complaining (about a situation or person) then you’re on the boat, baby.

And when you do not tell the truth—because it’s so friggin’ uncomfortable and risky—it’s no different than curling up in the bow of that boat, watching the water rise within it, and whimpering your way through the sinking of a vessel THAT YOU CHOSE TO BOARD!

My advice:

Either abandon ship or start bailing.

Go to your spouse, your son or sister or friend, and tell them the truth.

Go to your boss, colleague or clients and tell him/her what ain’t working for you.

Point to the water level rising in the boat, alert the “crew” and DO SOMETHING  for f*ck’s sake!

Will it be easy? No. Building strength of character never is.

But you’ve got no right to complain about the fact that the boat is sinking while you sit there and wonder how on earth it got so bad.

I’ll tell you how: lie upon little lie, one after the other, year after year. Here an avoidance, there an avoidance, everywhere avoidances…

You’ve got no one to blame but yourself if you find yourself knee-deep in water one day.


Big breath.


***Sound the all clear***

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.” ~Elvis Presley

Stay connected with our Monday Morning Message

Cynthia Barlow

Founder Cynthia Barlow

Facilitator, Author, Coach

Helping businesses build their people

When your people have the skills to communicate more effectively, they can connect more easily and collaborate more productively. Not only on the job, but also in life.

Communication, Connection, and Collaboration—the three “C’s”—are the cornerstones of all successful businesses. They are the result of Emotional Intelligence in action.

More details can be found in my recent best seller with co-author Jennifer Eggers:
Resilience: It’s Not About Bouncing Back

The power of resilience within organizations can transform an average company into a powerhouse. Yet, even in times of rapid disruptive change, there is no manual for building resilient organizations. This book is that manual.

“If you  want to build more resilience intentionally—personally and professionally—read this book.
Fran Karamousis, Chief  of Research, Gartner


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