You Can't Be Complacent
March 22, 2016
Today, standing still feels like the new losing. Our world is so fast paced and competition so fierce that if you aren't constantly moving forward you aren't perceived as being successful. Whether you agree with this notion or not is almost irrelevant because the simple truth is that those who are constantly pushing themselves are those who are achieving more. They're more valued by their organizations and no doubt rewarded more favorably too.
All of us want to find success. We all have that engrained programming that makes us want to succeed; we want to do our best. But, sometimes even our best intentions are thwarted and what we say we want and how we actually behave are two different things. If achievement is a hero in the fairytale that is our lives, then complacency is the evil queen doing everything in its power to crush our crusade for a better life.
There is one simple rule for finding success: If you want to achieve, you can't be complacent!
If you want to achieve more you must be committed to continual learning. You must be searching out opportunities to grow your skills and understanding. You'll never find your way to the future unless you keep pushing yourself to learn more. When you're not learning you are standing still. Frozen to the spot. It doesn't matter how good you are right now, when you stop trying to acquire new skills you've accepted that where you are right now is the best you can do. Someone else will appear in the distance and you'll be standing there watching them rush straight past you ascending the career ladder. The person that rushed past you hadn't stopped striving for more. They didn't settle. They kept moving forward.
Think about it: You are where you are in your career because of the education and the skills you have collected up until this point. Therefore it makes sense that to achieve the growth you need to constantly be learning. You need to be stretching yourself to acquire new skills and new education. The minute you think you know it all or don't need to push yourself is the moment that complacency is taking hold. And it's dangerous!
You need to be on high alert for complacency because when it sets in you're like a fly caught in a spider's web; once it gets ahold of you escaping it is almost impossible. Complacency will derail your career quicker than anything else. Be on the lookout for these tell-tell signs:
- You've stopped wanting to give your best. You're doing just enough to get by. You aren't going above and beyond; you're just coasting through each day... Keeping your head down.
- You've stopped paying attention to what's happening. You're not up to date on the latest trends in your industry. You've stopped being curious about what's happening around you.
- You let opportunities float past you. There are always opportunities available to learn new skills. If you're saying 'pass' to the new opportunities you're becoming stale.
- You've stopped sharing your thoughts, ideas and opinions. Fear of upsetting the status quo is preventing you from speaking out. If you never share your thoughts, people assume you simply don't have any.
Complacency is best described as being in your comfort zone. People lied to you when they told you that you must find and work in your comfort zone. It's a trap. Yes, the comfort zone is a place where you have mastered the necessary skill and understanding to feel safe and secure, but that's the problem. When you feel too safe and secure you like the feeling. Who doesn't want to feel safe and secure? But there is a problem; being safe leads to being content. Being content leads to settling. Searching for whatever may lie outside of our comfort zone brings feelings of uncertainty. That is scary. "Why would we attempt anything else that may not lead to us feeling as secure?" we ask ourselves and we simply don't try. The comfort zone that we're told we should aspire to find eventually drains our desire to find more. Comfort is complacency's best friend and neither are friends you should want to associate with.
There are ways to fend off complacency:
- Recognize. Spotting the problem is always the first step to fixing it. Be vigilant for those tell-tale signs that complacency is setting in. Ask yourself; "What is different about how I am approaching my work?" and "What has changed in my habits from when I first started this job?" Identify the problems
- Set new goals. Complacency usually starts setting in after success. We achieve what we set out to through the mastery of new skills and then when our initial high from our success has passed we feel content. We must always be setting ourselves new goals. As we achieve one, we should celebrate and then set another. The new goals need to stretch you so that you are filled with the energy you need to escape the grip of complacency.
- Know your 'why.' The goal setting is crucial but understanding why the goals are important to you is equally as important. Why do these goals matter? What is your purpose? Your purpose is your underlying mission; what you are aspiring to achieve in your career? The goals are the stepping stones to help get there. Reminding yourself of your purpose keeps the goals in context.
- Remember you're human! Complacency is part of our DNA. Complacency will happen. It happens to everyone. We are wired to find safety and security and that's why our natural default is to find and then live within our comfort zones. Knowing complacency will arrive at some point keeps us alert to it and helps us store the energy we'll need to combat it.
You deserve to achieve all that you desire. The biggest hurdle that stands in your way is you. You have to take responsibility for deciding what it is you want and why, then pursue it with grit and determination. Know that with every successful step forward you are prone to an attack of complacency and once it gets you in its sights, your career aspirations can be eliminated quickly. Don't let complacency win. Set new goals. Stretch yourself. Don't be content.