Think Positive with the No Complaining Rule

The key to positive thinking? No complaining!

Posted in , Aug 25, 2009

Jon Gordon

One simple rule is having a big impact.

I didn't invent the rule. I discovered it—at a small, fast growing, highly successful company that implements simple practices with extraordinary results.

One day I was having lunch with Dwight Cooper, a tall, thin, mild-mannered former basketball player and coach who had spent the last 10 years building and growing a company he co-founded into one of the leading nurse staffing companies in the world.

Dwight's company, PPR, was named one of Inc. Magazine's Fastest Growing Companies several times but on this day it was named one of the best companies to work for in the country and Dwight was sharing a few reasons why.

Dwight told me of a book he read about dealing with jerks and energy vampires in the work place. But after reading and reflecting on the book he realized that when it comes to building a positive, high performing business there was a much more subtle and far more dangerous problem than jerks. It was complaining and more subtle forms of negativity and he knew he needed a solution.

Dwight compared jerks to a kind of topical skin cancer. They don't hide. They stand right in front of you and say, "Here I am." As a result you can easily and quickly remove them. Far more dangerous is the kind of cancer that is subtle and inside your body. It grows hidden beneath the surface, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, but either way if not caught, it eventually spreads to the point where it can and will destroy the body.

Complaining and negativity is this kind of cancer to an individual and organization and Dwight had seen it ruin far too many. He was determined not to become another statistic and The No Complaining Rule was born. 

Despite the name The No Complaining Rule, which is also the title of my new book, the goal is not to eliminate all complaining. Just mindless complaining that negatively impacts our health and performance and sabotages our individual and team success. And the bigger goal is to turn complaints into solutions and positive actions. After all, every complaint represents an opportunity to turn something negative into a positive.

Instead of letting complaining generate negative energy, we can use it for a positive purpose. We can utilize our complaints to move us towards solutions and positive actions.

The key is to determine if a complaint is a mindless complaint or a justified complaint. If it’s a justified complaint then the goal is to think of one or two possible solutions and/or positive actions to address and rectify the complaint.

On the other hand if you are engaging in or dealing with in mindless complaining then you’ll want to try to break the habit ASAP. Start by trying not to complain for one whole day. And then challenge yourself by following my No Complaining Week. Try it and let me know how you did!

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Jon Gordon is a speaker, consultant and author of several books including the recently released The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work and the international best seller The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy which has captured the hearts of readers world-wide. Read more at

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