She was a relatively new member in the chapter, there had been a disagreement between members and the chapter split, leaving only 12 active members. As I  walked into the meeting, she headed my direction and introduced herself to me. Her name was Denise and she had a concern about the chapter. Her question was, “Should I be looking for a different chapter since this one seems to be falling apart?”  My response was brief but direct, “Well Denise, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution, choose which one you want to be.”

People complain to me regularly about this not working or that not working, something is failing or someone is not being fair. There is always something to complain about. But how does complaining help the situation? The facts are, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

Being part of the problem:

  • This means you are happy to complain about what is not working, but unwilling to step up and offer a solution to the problem.
  • Over and over again, I visit BNI Chapters made up of business people who are benefiting from their membership in the group, but who constantly have a complaint about what is not working. When I look at their statistics I can clearly show them how it is not the system that is not working, but rather it is their lack of participation.
  • Their unwillingness to serve on the Leadership Team to help take the chapter in a new direction, to give referrals or to have one to ones with their fellow members. Those who complain the loudest are often the very ones who are being part of the problem.
  • When I question why they do not have one to ones, they say they are too busy.
  • When I ask why they have not served on the Leadership Team, they say they are too busy. These are the same people who want to transfer to a different chapter when things get tough in their own chapters, they are the first to jump ship.

It is always easier to be part of the problem, it takes very little effort. I have met too many people who want all the benefits of their memberships but feel that they are not required to give back to the chapter or their fellow members in time or commitment.

Being part of the solution:

  • This is a much harder place to be, but it shows the kind of character that you want in a referral partner and fellow member.
  • The person who is part of the solution may have a complaint, but it is usually followed with a possible solution or open discussion.
  • These are the members who understand that “Givers Gain” goes beyond just getting and giving referrals.

When I look at the statistics of the members who want to be part of the solution, these tend to be the members who are contributing to the overall wellness of not only their business, but also the business of the chapter and fellow members.

When I told Denise, she was either going to be part of the problem or part of the solution and it was up to her to choose, Denise walked away, gave it thought, and became part of the solution. That was about 15 years ago, she stepped up, helped turn the chapter around, became one of the new Leadership Team Members, and today actually runs the region.

We all have the opportunity to choose who we want to be in the world: the constant complainer who never steps up to be a solution, or the person who sees the problem and goes beyond their complaints to offering to become part of the solution.

Which one are you?

Keep It Simple


There are few women better at building a global network than Hazel Walker . Renowned for her straight talk and no-holds-barred approach, Hazel is a globally sought after speaker.