Quit whining and let’s appreciate how far we’ve come…

On our last day in New York, my son and I had fully intended to head to Ellis Island but alas, timing didn’t work out (Northwest Airlines cancelled our flight and other issues). Now facing a six hour adventure to get home (vs. just over three hours) has put my 13 year old in a foul mood, “Dad…I’ll be so BORED!” he cries as we talk about ways to keep our minds occupied in the airport, on the flights and the one hour layover until we finally get home.

Oh….we poor babies! A six hour, relatively comfortable flight with nothing to read or DVD’s to watch…how can we manage?

Imagine being one of the 12 million immigrants that spent WEEKS on a journey that culminated in arriving in New York and going through Ellis Island (unless you were wealthy or ‘upper class’ and then you were automatically in). Arduous? To say the least. Boring? Undoubtedly. Smelly, dirty and infested? Yep.

I think about stuff like this whenever I complain about technology: slow, expensive Wifi (like I experienced in our New York hotel); lack of 3G in my iPhone and that I can’t use it as a bluetooth modem; or that it’s challenging to integrate free, open source software projects. At least I’m not in the middle of the Atlantic with nothing and coming to a land of opportunity and unknown challenges.

Am I grateful for what I (and we) have today? Oh my God yes. I’m also aware how ‘soft’ we are as a nation and a people since most of us haven’t lived through true hardship like our immigrant ancestors (though we may now if the economy continues its downward trend!). I’m aware often that I come from quite modest means and my maternal grandparents, for example, were as close to the poverty line as I’ll ever experience (hopefully) and were the salt of the earth…teaching me early the meaning and importance of love over anything else…especially the material. The guidance from them, my parents and the people I’ve gravitated toward over the years have reinforced this perspective.

The flip side is that whining and complaints is the market speaking and actually is a good thing. We’re telling the creators, the vendors and the service providers what is NOT working and what needs to be improved. It’s the only way that progress occurs and the inefficient is made efficient.

It’s just that whining and complaining works best if it’s balanced with appreciation on how far we’ve come and we approach our suggestions, criticisms and feedback in the spirit of making it better.

I’ve been invited in to dozens of ‘private beta’ Web offerings as well as sit on the advisory boards of two companies. Why? I really appreciate where we’ve been in the space they’re attacking (usually one that desperately needs improvement), where we are now (the current offerings in the market), where they’re headed, and that my positive whining, complaining, guidance and insight — if offered in the true spirit of improvement — is deeply appreciated and results in positive change.

Give it a try the next time you’re mad, frustrated or befuddled by some product or service that you think needs to be made more efficient. I’ll wager it will be accepted well if it’s offered with appreciation and your positive feedback.


  1. Dave Ferguson on April 2, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Isaac Asimov said that the most important words in science were not “Eureka!” but “That’s funny…”

    Maybe the most important words in commerce are “why doesn’t somebody…?”

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.