A question came to mind earlier this week. Is it possible to be a curmudgeon above-the-line? Can I be a curmudgeon who thinks and acts positively? Since this way of being is generally applied to old men, this may not at first glance be a topic of wide interest. However, the state of “curmudgeonness” is not limited to us old guys. We may just have more experience with being it. For me, it’s been over 20 years of having some people place me in this category.
This has current relevance to me because I am dedicated to living my life with positive thoughts and behaviors. I also have a tendency to be grumpy at times. So, I began calling myself a curmudgeon because it seemed to have a better feel than grumpy. I’m confident that you can’t do grumpy with positive energy; hence this exploration of curmudgeon. I must like the condition because two of the books my computer monitor sits on are The Portable Curmudgeon and Sh*t My Dad Says.
Cathy’s answer to my question was “I guess it’s in how you define it.” That makes sense. If a curmudgeon is a crusty, ill-tempered, churlish old man, it probably can’t be done above-the-line. On the other hand, if you define curmudgeon as anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so in an engaging and humorous manner, it has potential. (Definitions taken from The Portable Curmudgeon, Jon Winokur).
One of the above-the-line words we use in our work is ruthlessness. Seemingly an oxymoron, the use of this word means that you will ruthlessly protect your aliveness. It never means acting ruthlessly towards others. So, I’m looking at all the words Clarity associates with ruthlessness to determine an effective way to be curmudgeonly above-the-line.
I am dedicated to protecting my aliveness and the aliveness of everyone I work and live with. When I make curmudgeonly comments I intend to do so with compassion and kindness. I will always be conscious of how I deliver my thoughts and comments so that they are spoken from a place of full participation and collaboration. I read somewhere that ruthlessness is the kindness of the wise so I always intend to be a wise, coaching curmudgeon.
If you need to do a more effective job of protecting your aliveness, awaken your inner curmudgeon. If you deliver the message with compassion, kindness and humor, you will be effective and above-the-line.