Chapter 32 Summary
Don’t Complain, Just Work Harder
Too many people spend their lives complaining about their problems. Pausch believes that if people spent one-tenth of the energy they spend on complaining and used it to solve the problem, they would be amazed at how well things might turn out for them. But not everyone is a complainer.
Sandy Blatt, Pausch’s landlord while he is in graduate school, is not a complainer. He had a tragic accident when he was a young man. While he was unloading boxes into the cellar of a building, a truck backed into him. He fell backwards down the stairs and into the cellar. One time when Pausch asked him how far he fell, Blatt simply said, “Far enough.” Blatt has spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. At the time of the accident, Blatt was an amazing athlete and engaged to be married. He did not want to place such a burden on the woman he loved, and he told her he would understand if she wanted to back out of their engagement. She did.
When Pausch meets Blatt, he is in his thirties and has an amazing, positive attitude. It is unimaginable to think of him whining. He worked hard to become a licensed marriage counselor, and he and his wife adopted several children. Any time he talks about his medical issues, he does so quite matter-of-factly and without complaint. Once he explains to Pausch that changes in temperature are difficult for a quadriplegic because they are unable to shiver. He asks Pausch to hand him a blanket, and that is the end of the matter.
Pausch’s favorite non-complainer is Jackie Robinson. He was the first African-American to play Major League Baseball and endured unimaginable racism. He understood that he was going to have to play better and worker harder than any of the white players, so he did. No matter what the players or the fans did, he was determined not to complain.
At one time, Pausch had a photo of this non-whining baseball hero hanging in his office, and it made him sad to realize so many of his students had no idea who he was. In fact, many of these young people are so used to color images that they did not even notice the old, black-and-white photo hanging on the wall.
Pausch thinks it is a shame because people like Sandy Blatt and Jackie Robinson are the best kind of role models. They are proof that complaining is not a winning strategy. Everyone has a finite amount of time and energy, and any time spent whining is time taken away from reaching goals. And whining will certainly not make anyone happier.