The 95% Rule… “Purposeful” vs. “Recreational” Griping

The 95% Rule… – “Purposeful” vs. “Recreational” Griping

A good friend of mine, Eric Perrault, shares the idea of “Purposeful” vs. “Recreational” Griping (he does not use the word “griping” J and I am paraphrasing…) to look at the purpose and outcome of complaining. He actually borrowed it from his friend and author David Irvine (, @DavidJIrvine) but I am “stealing” it because I like it too!

I would define “Recreational” Griping as complaining without purpose…

  • “These kids just don’t get it…”
  • “Why do I need to change or improve my practice?”
  • “These parents just complain.”
  • “There is nothing I can do with these students.”
  • “All I get are kids who can’t _________.”

I would define “Purposeful” Griping as bringing up an issue or something that is not currently working with the purpose of improving it or making positive change.

A critical moment for me was when a team of grade 2 teachers came to me and shared, “Derek, this schedule is not working for us.” As the person who had set up the schedule, which is never perfect (honest), I felt a small groan in my gut and let out a deep sigh…


They said, “But Derek, we have a plan…”

Their plan was awesome! They had thought it out and came to me with ideas that fit their needs and I was able to easily accommodate them in a way that made much more sense for their work with students. More heads are better than one!

I have tried to work that into my own thinking as well. Rather than engage in “Recreational” Griping, I am trying to make sure I am asking

  • “How do we make this better?”
  • “How can I provide feedback to improve?”
  • “What kind of changes can we make that will enhance student learning?”

If something is not working, let’s change it. Your participation is critical in this work.

Bring possibilities for solutions. Don’t wait to be directed. As a school-based leader, I need to be open to possibilities as we move forward.

Who controls our day? We do…

Work hard, learn tonnes!


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