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Did you know that it takes people on average 6 months to be able to go 21 consecutive days without complaining?

It makes going complaint-free easier said than done.

I heard about this challenge on CBC’s Tapestry 

How does it work?

For 21 days you cannot complain, blame, criticize or gossip.  You wear a wristband and you switch it to the other wrist as soon as you catch yourself doing any of the above.  These are the rules set out by Will Bowen who will even send you a purple wrist band (I hear they are on back order), along with his book.

What do I do instead?

Does it mean you are just going to be positive and not notice anything negative around you? Not at all. It means you express what you see, but you stay out of judgment and blame and you rephrase it.

Instead of saying:

“I can’t believe that team is so incredibly slow. They should have finished that part ages ago!”


“The team has not delivered the results at the promised and agree upon time. I am curious as to what happened and I am going to find out.”

It also works at home.

Instead of saying:

“Ah, all you do is watch your youtube (insert favourite social media), I can’t believe you didn’t clean the kitchen!”

Perhaps try:

“We agreed that you could clean the kitchen. I see it has not been done. What happened? What is your plan for getting it done?”

Language Matters

When you are in blame, you cannot be in kind and supportive mode at the same time. When you complain, you cannot be solution-oriented at the same time.

You may not have a choice in what triggers or annoys you, but you do have a choice in the language you choose. It takes more effort to reframe you complaint into neutral language, but it is well worth it to create a kinder, more productive work place. When we are in a positive frame of mind we see more solutions (the happiness advantage) Blaming, gossiping and complaining do not contribute to this positive frame of mind.  

Maya Angelou had some thoughts on a world without complaints:


Join in

You can get the official plastic band or the app, but any bracelet or elastic wrist band will do.

I am getting started today - I bet it won’t be as easy as it seems.  

Join in and share what you discover. 


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  • Martin Durocher
    Martin Durocher says #
    Sounds excellent. I actually heard the author of Positive Intelligence speak today and it resonated with me. We could all use mor

“What is perfect about this?”

When I ask this question in my coaching, often I get a blank or annoyed look. “Nothing. There is nothing perfect about this,” is the typical reply and the frustration is palpable. Letting silence work its magic, something inevitably opens up. “Well, maybe this is the opportunity to think differently about how I approach this,” or, “What I used to do is no longer working. I should delegate and this might be the opportunity for Jeff to take on more responsibilities.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Brenda
    Brenda says #
    This is a truly wonderful example of what is perfect about this. Ellen , thanks so much.
  • Francoise
    Francoise says #
    This is a great question. It allows people to focus on the positive aspects of a situation, thereby jump-starting their creativity

men pushing arrowAs baby boomers retire and the healthcare job market becomes even more competitive, it is getting harder and harder to attract and retain high potential leaders. Leaders in healthcare are dealing with rising costs, changing regulations, and technology growth. Leaders have to possess the skills and attitudes to meet changing organizational needs. As we face an aging workforce, we need to be even more proactive about nurturing strong candidates to take over when our key leaders retire.

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match on fire small2It's amazing how the words you use can be empowering or disempowering. It's so easy to talk yourself out of things. When I woke up at 5:30AM on Monday morning to get ready for my 6:00 AM swim, I heard the self-talk in my head. I should get up and go to my session because it is good for me. I listened to my own language and realized that I have already disengaged and don't really want to go. When I changed my language to I am going to my swim session, something shifted in me. When I then changed it to I choose to attend the session I felt fully engaged and full of power.

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Imagine having the skills, confidence, and know-how to communicate your vision and motivate others to help you achieve it.

Registration is now open for the Rising Leaders Program, designed to facilitate your professional development by building confidence and leadership skills and uncovering your authentic leadership style. You will develop your vision and get the tools you need to make it happen.

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