Why did you say that?

I was out for a walk the other day when I saw an older dude jogging toward me. As he got closer, he said:

“in case you were wondering, I hate this.”

Well, I wasn’t wondering, but I am now.  Specifically, here is what I’d like to know:

If you really hate running, why are you doing it, and of you don’t hate running, why did you say it?

I would guess that he really doesn’t hate running, or at least he likes the health benefits of running, so he endures the process.  There are things we all do that we might not like doing, but we like or desire the result, so we do it. So I don’t think that’s it.

I am much more intrigued by why he said this. Why did he choose to tell me he hates running, rather than just saying hello or good morning, or nothing at all?

It reminded me of a leader I once worked with who told me in confidence that, “it sounds silly, but I love my job.”

Both of these statements are telling in their own right. I get the impression that my jogging buddy feels that running is a necessary evil and that complaining about it reaps more rewards and attention that being positive about it. My leader friend was in a similar boat. In his environment, it wasn’t cool to like your job, so even if you did, you would still complain about it because that’s what gives you positive attention.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “misery loves company”.  We’ve also heard that “smiles are contagious”. So, if people are conduits for both positivity and negativity, don’t we have a choice of which one we pass along to someone else?

Of course we do, but that doesn’t always make it easy.  Going along with the crowd and their negativity can actually be comforting.  You fit in, you belong.  As much as people want positive attention, they REALLY want to belong.

What’s more prevalent in your work areas?  Commiserating misery or contagious smiles? Don’t you, as a leader, have the power, opportunity, and responsibility to set the right course?

Which one are you choosing?

Thanks for reading!


Bonus quote for today’s post comes from Matt’s favorite band, Rush.  They wrote a song called Freewill, and part of the lyrics state: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”  Thought that went nicely with our topic today. Kind of like the cherry on an ice cream sundae!