Never Complain, Never Explain - Christine Kane

Although I’ve come a long way as a coach and entrepreneur, I would never present myself as someone who has it all figured out. Life is a journey of learning and evolving, and your business is an extension of that.

Today I’m telling a recent story about how I was tempted to allow triggered energy into an inappropriate public situation. I share the valuable advice my friend offered that helped me manage an extraordinarily intimidating and infuriating situation.   

In business, at some point, we have to deal with conflicts. It’s all in how we refocus our brain to find solutions instead of sinking into problems. 

And, if you’re up for it, I’ve got a one-week challenge to help you gain a clearer understanding of your energy and discover you have more power to manage it than you believe. 

The end goal is not to make every interaction conflict-free. (As if!) It’s about honing the skill to interpret every circumstance in a different light. And when you get it down, it’s really a beautiful way to approach your business and your life. Enjoy.

Episode Transcript

It is okay to have a boundary. It is okay to set standards. What you’re going to have to understand is that you’re going to be facing the consequences of your own standards of your own preferences and of your own band.

Welcome to the Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host. Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Hello and welcome to episode number, gosh, we’re at 42 episode number 42 of the Soul-Sourced Business Podcast. And in order to introduce our topic today, I’m going to have to get a little personal and I want to be very clear that I’m sharing this simply so you understand where I was tempted to get super triggered, how and how this lesson that we’re going to walk through today came about. Because one thing I don’t want to do is present myself as somebody like, Oh, I’ve got it all made. I never have challenges. Nothing ever comes up for me, because that would be a total lie and business is problems, and otherwise we wouldn’t have businesses, and things just happen. And as long as you’re dealing with other human beings, you are going to have things come up. Because as I teach in my training, The Enneagram and The Entrepreneur, we are all just patterns bumping into patterns. I think there’s a folk song in there somewhere, but I won’t be the one to write it.

So in my situation, there was a disgruntled contractor who had done work for me and billed me, overcharged me, uh, outside of our contract, I fought it and dealt with it, et cetera, et cetera. And the disgruntled nature of his complaint, his feeling, whatever led him to write a very, uh, nasty email to, uh, several people in my life, including my agent, my book publisher, and all kinds of, like just, bad Juju within that email. And I shared this with my dear friend, Susan Piver, and we were talking about how to respond to the various people who received this. And Susan, who also had been in the music business, said that back in the day, when she was in Austin, Texas, she was sort of taken under the wing by a music manager who is a very, I would say she described her sort of as a crusty Southern woman and an eight on the Enneagram, and I don’t know if you know what that means, but it sort of evokes an image. And the woman one time said to Susan, “honey, never complain, never explain.” And both Susan and I laughed at that. And what she was saying to me was in my response, to hold a level of equanimity.

In other words, there are so many ways I could have made this person the bad guy and made me the good guy and explained all the drama that went on in it. And this advice that you know was coming from way back in, in history of Austin music business, helped me recenter myself into a truth that I have known for a long, long time. And that is we rarely get anywhere when we complain and we rarely get anywhere when we explain. And I’m going to talk a little bit about this because there’s two levels that I want to approach this from. And one is the first is the level of just advice and coaching. And the second is the level of energy, which of course me being me is always going to be the most important.

So The idea of never complain, never explain, I have since shared this with so many people. And as soon as I say it, everyone’s eyes lights up and they say, Oh, that’s So great. Oh, I love that. It’s so true. And the people who resonate most with it tend to be seasoned entrepreneurs. People who have had a business forever, and they understand they’ve gone through that, walked through that fire where they’ve been the complainer, they’ve been the explainer, they’ve wanted their truth to be heard and realized it absolutely serves nobody. And there is something about when you have your own business and you start to realize that when you complain, it gets it, doesn’t get you anywhere. If you go to, for instance, let’s say you go to an employee and you complain, that isn’t going to help them. Being able to give feedback and give it with equanimity, that really can change somebody and sharing, you know, expectations and results and milestones and measurements, that helps somebody. Feedback helps, complaining doesn’t. And yet many of us, most of us spend much of our days complaining and putting. Really, really, I’m not gonna say bad mojo, cause I just think that’s a stupid way of looking at it, I think it’s really unproductive language out there. There is a way to share when something’s not working without the energy of complaining that goes along with it.

And explaining, and we’ve all experienced when a business explains to us, like when something goes really a muck in a customer service and the owner of the business gets on the phone and starts telling you their hard story about how bad things have been since Covid or whatever, that doesn’t help you. And he’s not taking responsibility. And at some level we all know this. And so as business owners, just a good place to stand, a good little rule to live by is never complain, never explain, even if you are right, even if you’ve done everything you could, and this thing happened outside of your power, you just get nowhere by digging yourself into the hole of explaining.

And it really serves no purpose, especially since as a leader, which you are, you are claiming full 100% responsibility for everything that happens in your business, in your work with your employees, with your clients. And I’m not saying you’re responsible for your clients and everything. You’re responsible to them, of course, but responsibility is not blame. It’s really a way of holding yourself. It’s really a way of being in a place of power. And I don’t mean a place of control where I’ve got this and I’m, you know, I’m going to kick life’s ass. That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re simply talking about a level of being in charge of having the ability to, as I talk about in my book, the Soul-Sourced Entrepreneur, to interpret every circumstance in a different light than most people would interpret that circumstance. So to that end, never complain, never explain is a really beautiful way to approach your business and your life. And if I was going to issue a challenge with this episode, I would say to you, try it for a week, try never complain, never explain, and just see what it does for you, because you’ll see how easy it is to just let your language, your energy, your attention go to, what’s wrong? What didn’t work? Why I tried so hard, I did everything I could, and all of that, that way that we move when we aren’t being intentional or deliberate or operating from that place of equanimity.

And so that is the, that’s the coaching side of that. That’s that mentorship side of it, that’s sort of the rule. But the deeper I go into my work as a human and as a business owner and as a coach, the more and more I find the energy behind things like emotions and actions to be the most interesting level of growth for each and every one of us. And so, when we look at never complain, never explain, one other way I would want you to really see this, besides just saying try for a week, is really watch your own energy. When you complain, where does it go? Watch the movement of complaining, watch the movement of explaining and what happens. And I’m going to tell you my experience of it. If you guys, if any of you have done my Uplevel Your Life program, it’s a, it’s a coaching program I created an gosh bait back in like I think 2008 and it’s evolved and grown and Uplevel Your Life has been probably the most popular program I’ve ever done, but it’s a full-on coaching program. And it’s very much about managing your own energy. And the entire program opens up with a contract that every participant signs at the beginning of it, that is, uh, the complaint-free contract.

And when we first did the program, we, um, I, I had these little rubber bands that people would put around their hand that went out with the program. Everyone got one in the mail and they had the little Uplevel on them. And what you were meant to do was to every time you caught yourself complaining, you would take the band off of one hand and move it to the other hand. Some people thought I meant you were supposed to throw back yourself and no, I’m not into punishment. But what was funny was that we would send one band and people started writing in and they were like, I moved it so many times that I need another band. And so we started sending three bands with every program, which was kind of humorous and defeats the whole point of a complaint-free contract.

But that complaint free contract, let me back up and say why it was there, It wasn’t there as a rule. It wasn’t there as a coaching guide. It was actually there because what I wanted people to understand was that coaching and self coaching and, and UpLeveling your life had nothing to do with being a good, a good Christian or a good Buddhist or a good whatever you are. It doesn’t, it wasn’t about that or a nice person or a kind person. Those things are great. But what I wanted people to start doing was watching where their energy went, because as it is said, energy flows where attention goes. And so I wanted people to start watching how much our attention can knee-jerk to the problem and can go just on endless tirades about the problem and what’s not working. And our brains are actually very good at finding solutions when we give it, when we start training them to find those solutions.

But first we have to become aware of some of our old habits as which is where the, you know, the rubber bands around your hands and all that kind of stuff, or run your wrist, really worked to help people start to train that very viscerally and understand how often they were just training themselves to dive into that problem and complain about that problem. So with that said, when we look at the energy of complaining, what we’re ultimately doing is we are sending our attention. We’re sending our energy out into the world of what we think should happen. And so it is a judgment. It is just draining us and it just sends our energy into places we don’t really necessarily find productive in the long run. And like I said, this does not mean you don’t go to therapy. This does not mean you don’t share what’s not working. It does not mean you don’t give feedback. It’s just, you know, the difference between when you’re giving good feedback or when you’re just a storm of bitching, we don’t want to do that.

So that’s one way, like when you look at the energy of complaining, and even if you just sit quietly and ask yourself, what, what is the energy that happens when I go on a tirade? What is the energy that happens when I, when I whine about something that isn’t right in my business, because one thing that you’re going to have to understand, I don’t care how long you’ve been in business, and if you’ve been in business a long time, you get this. In some ways, I look at the fact that I’ve had a business for as long as I can remember. I look at it as, you know what? Everything is the cost of doing business, the cost of having this freedom of having the financial freedom I have now, the freedom of being my own boss of running my own time comes with almost a, you could say like the, uh, tuition.

So I almost look at it, I started doing this when I was a musician. I started saying, you know what, I’m kind of getting an MBA. And the way I looked at it was every time I lost money or made a mistake or did something stupid or, or an employee, you know, I had one employee like walk away when I was a musician and take my laptop and like just so many bad experiences, but every single experience taught me more and more and more and more about becoming a very powerful, and I don’t mean powerful, like our power over, I mean, powerful within the powerful business owner and someone who can really trust herself and all of that comes with a cost. And what that meant was for me, that is as quickly as I could see that energy flowing out of me to that rotten employee or that complete jerk off over there, I, the faster I could cut that energy off and say no more, we’re not going there anymore. Call that back to me, see it as the cost of doing business. And you know, if I have to process it with somebody, if I have to do work with it, if I have to cry, I will cry, but I’m not going to spend my, all my energy just draining it out to this employee who stole something, ’cause they’re going to have to deal with their own karma at some point. Now, of course, this mean you don’t take legal action when you need to take legal action. And it doesn’t mean, you know, you’re not gonna be upset, but one of the things you have to understand is that business and lessons and learning and growth and expansion, sometimes they cost money. And sometimes they cost time. And anytime you’re dealing with humans, there’s going to be pattern bumping into pattern, and you’re going to be learning and you’re going to be expanding and you’re going to be witnessing.

And what you do with these situations is going to be key. And when you spend your time complaining, what you’re doing is you’re watching your energy basically say, I have no power. I cannot learn. I will not grow. The world sucks and nothing works. And that is not going to be a strong foundation from which to run a business or lead people, because you’re constantly going to be seeing yourself as victim, as martyr and not asking yourself, what am I being called to do here? Well, how am I being called to expand here? And again, I know we all have stuff we have to learn and grow and process in business, but that’s part of it.

And then let’s move into the energy of explaining. So this is the energy of setting boundaries. It, at least in the way I’m seeing it here. So what we tend to do when we have businesses at first is that I think we can be so surprised that we even have clients. And we’re so shocked that something’s going well, that we tend to overdo it. We over-give, we lose our boundaries. We work into the evening, we’re textable, we’re, find-able, we’ll do every last little service that wasn’t on the contract for the person. And we’ve lost our sense of boundaries. We have no standards. We we don’t even know who we are anymore. And it might not be in every area, but you know, when it’s in certain areas. And so when it comes time to say no, to set a boundary, what we want to do energetically, is we want everyone to agree with us. We want them all to be, you know, on our side about this. And so what we do is we explain, we start explaining ourselves, and then we become the sad story because I never get any sleep anymore. And when you text me at 10 at night, I don’t, and we started to become a very powerless human.

We are no longer leaders, because we’re getting lost in that I call it “explaint” because we have the complaint-free contract, I also created an “explaint” free contract at one point a long time ago, when I was teaching my clients how to set boundaries. But we, we get lost in the energy of explaining. Again, it is a powerless energy, and it does not help you as a business owner. And it does not serve you. It is okay to have a boundary. It is okay to set standards. What you’re going to have to understand is that you’re going to be facing the consequences of your own standards of your own preferences and of your own boundaries. And what the consequences sometimes mean is that some people are going to go away. And some people aren’t going to like you. And this is where power gets lost.

When you begin to explain yourself to people, power gets drained because you’re so busy trying to protect their impression of you. And you’re spending all your time, building yourself back up in their eyes. But when you have boundaries and standards, your, their opinion of you is none of your business. And so what we, what we do is we explain in order to build ourselves back up and in order to hope we get votes. But when you’re a leader and when you’re an entrepreneur, and when you’re a business owner, who’s doing well, you don’t need votes. You just do your work and you serve your people. And you recognize that some people are not going to like you. And some people are not going to like the boundaries you set. And so never complain, never explain really at the end of the day is an energetic call to action.

Meaning, I do not let my energy drain out of me in order to prop up people’s opinions of me in order to get some agenda, which usually means hoping people like you, hoping people will pay for you, hoping you won’t lose face. And I stand clearly in my power and I, and I really, really am careful with the use of my attention and the use of my energy. And I’m going to tell you that this is not a one-time kind of moment of work. This is a lifetime of work, because as many times as I have Up-Leveled my own energy at this point, as you can see, since I brought up a recent situation, I still have to go through this. And it’s almost like every time you Up-Level, the universe comes back with like another thing that’s unresolved from, from your past, from your energy, whatever it might be and says, Hey, are you sure you really resolve this one? ‘Cause we’re going to make it a little bit harder. We’re going to twist it a little bit differently. And you’re going to have one more reason that you might have to explain yourself. You’re going to have one more reason why it might be okay to complain. And what you’re constantly doing is asking yourself, can I trust my path? Can I trust my business? Can I trust that I am being called to expand in all these many ways?

And so with that, I’m going to leave you with that. Never complain, never explain. Thanks to Susan Piver and her music manager mentor. And I’m also going to ask you that if you guys wouldn’t mind, please put a little rating of this podcast. And if you feel so compelled, I would love it If you would leave a review, write a little review, it always helps. And I’d be most grateful. I love reading them. It really helps me in terms of content. And in the meantime, thank you so much for listening week after week. I’m very, very grateful. And I love hearing from some of you have written me to say, I take notes on your podcasts. I listen three and four times. I love this. I’m glad it’s helping because it’s it’s stuff. It’s that unnameable stuff that most people don’t talk about when they’re so busy talking about the strategy of business, it’s all these little energetic things that are really operating the show and the clearer you get, the better your business gets.

Thanks. You guys for listening. I’ll see you next week.