The alarm rings at 8 in the morning for Samrat everyday. He takes about an hour to get ready and another half an hour to reach his place of work. By 9:30 he is all set to start. The day proceeds with a number of files, executive meetings, onsite inspections, tenders, etc. As a vigilance office, Samrat had achieved what he wanted to, at quite an early age. Nobody in his office was at such a senior position, at this young age. And Samrat was well aware of the fact. He was proud of what he had achieved and was good with his work. Weekends for him were full on party time. He slept till late every Saturday and enjoyed a night out with friends. Sundays were family time.
This routine went on for years. It was status quo i.e. he remained in the existing state for years. Nothing positive, nothing negative happened. Why?
Samrat had a goal for him, which he achieved, but there after he grew complacent. He accepted his successes as the final victory and never thought of going any further.
Now one question – suppose you happen to get lucky enough to be in Samrat’s shoes, would be happy to be constant for years? Wouldn’t this routine bore you?
While this was an example, where we assumed that nothing positive or negative happened, in reality, as one goes complacent, negative starts gaining momentum. For example take the case of a normal business. When economy is doing well, there will be sales and efforts will pay off. At this stage, if the business owner enters into a complacent stage, till the time economy is booming, there will be no harm. But this won’t happen forever. Economy will change direction and recession will happen, for whatever length of time. But because the business owner is now a victim of complacency, he’ll sleep through the recession as well. During these times, competition will go tuff. It will be required to make an extra effort, just to safeguard the existing customers. Eventually, on account of complacency, the ones successful business owner will lose it all. The crux is that if you limit yourself, soon others will overtake you and your complacent attitude will result into failure. No wonder complacency is considered to be self destructive.
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Complacency is a challenge many face. This is not an outcome of any personality flaw or carelessness towards commitments. Complacency makes its space when you are content with your current achievements. It happens when the work gets repetitive and there is no aspiration to go any further up. Being successful is a dream and when one achieves success, there is a tendency to go satisfied and thus content and thus complacent. There are no more challenges now. The drive to win over others is no longer active. The fire has been extinguished. All these factors combined together inhibit any further growth; in fact eventually complacency pushes towards failures. Because once you become satisfied and give up effort to push forward, the reverse momentum picks gear. While you sit at one position, others keep pushing themselves forward. And as we all know this a race, where if the rabbit sleeps with complacency, tortoise will eventually take over. There is no space for losers, so if you rest, today or tomorrow, you’ll be labelled failure.
So complacency is a known enemy. Others are suffering from it and unable to deal with the menace. You at least don’t fall a victim. Here are few thoughts from the wise on the subject:
Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained: Vladimir Nabokov
When a great team loses through complacency, it will constantly search for new and more intricate explanations to explain away defeat: Pat Riley
You need to have a redesign because familiarity breeds a kind of complacency: Timothy White
A complacent satisfaction with present knowledge is the chief bar to the pursuit of knowledge: Unknown
I am not complacent!!!
This is the biggest issue with complacency. There are no signs or symptoms of this dangerous issue. A lot many people are suffering from this problem and don’t even realize it. Such silent is the attack of complacency that the victim hardly realizes the blow. It is only when failure stands right in front does one realizes, what has happened.
In a nutshell, complacency is kind of invisible. It will come and affect and yet will not be observable. Usually it works something like this: success comes and with it comes the belief that I know it all. This I know it all attitude or I am the most talented feel, leaves no scope for any further efforts or experimentation. The feeling of staying ahead naturally subsides. There no longer is any desperation to achieve. The individual becomes proud of the growth so far and sleeps over the current state, while others easily overtake. Or we can say, while complacency overtakes!
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Ruhi always wanted to be a fashion designer. There was little she thought beyond this dream of her. Her day was full of colours and fabrics, with new work ideas popping out with every creation. Her talent and dedication towards the art soon showed results. A top designing firm appointed her as the fashion designer. Ruhi was good with her work and designs spoke of the talent. Soon her idea gained popularity and more and more clients showed interest in hiring Ruhi as their manager in charge. In hardly seven months, Ruhi had only proved herself, but had also achieved her predefined targets for the first year. Employers were extremely to have her in their company.
But then something happened. When Ruhi began working with the company she had a passion to prove herself. This was success for her. She had not thought beyond this first achievement. And as she achieved her targets, five months in advance, she allowed herself to relax. This was a mistake. Too early in her career, Ruhi had already achieved her goals. Ideally she should have given this a serious thought and should have figured out a higher yardstick.
But on the other hand she chose to relax. For the next five months, her performance deteriorated. Although she had met her goals as set by the company, but now others expected more out of her. This break for Ruhi forced her into a state of complacency, whereby she lost the momentum.
Like so many others, her best period was followed by the worst. Why does this happens? Why is the best performance, often succeeded by the worst one? Why would somebody as talented and focused as Ruhi get complacent?
The complacency trap … you must fight it!
First and foremost, do not take things for granted. Again talking about the rabbit and tortoise race, the rabbit assumed that it would win. Rabbit calculated its speed, compared it to the walking pace of the tortoise and took the situation for granted. In first few minutes of the race, rabbit covered quite a lot of distance and then assumed that tortoise would be far behind and it was perfect time to rest. Rabbit’s capabilities were certainly better than this. It could easily run for another few minutes and win the race, but it grew complacent with progress so far and slept during the race. Tortoise instead kept walking consistently and because rabbit was sleeping, won the competition. This happens with all of us, all the time. There are five days of leave preparation for math examination. You study hard for the first two days and cover 60% – 70% of the course and then feel it is ok to take a day off. However this tendency to take situation for granted always hurts. That party for a day kills the momentum and for the rest two days, it just seems so difficult to catch up again. In a professional situation too the same issue persists. So work when you must and just because you think have control over the scenario, do not sleep over important matters.
Do not get clumsy but rejuvenate to start higher. Once you have achieved you always though wanted to, do not stop there. Take a break and relax a bit. But don’t allow this break to stretch forever. While you relax and enjoy the success achieved so far, rejuvenate. By rejuvenate the idea is propel a fresh start. Think about what you wanted and what you got. Now think about others, who are at levels higher than you. Weigh your talent and opportunities. Think again at what you are capable of doing. If you could come this far successfully, there certainly are higher levels that can be achieved. So why restrict yourself here. Pamper yourself and reward your efforts but at the same time, get geared to make a move again. This time lift your standards higher. If earlier you thought B+ was good, now aim for a higher grade. Make sure you raise your standards, with every success, or else you’ll trip down.
Be careful with the company you keep. Those around you matter a lot, all through the journey. How could tortoise be a good enough challenge for a rabbit, when it comes to racing competition? Their abilities differ naturally. So if you surround yourself with people who are not as good as you are, leave aside better than you, you’ll soon be the best among them. This feeling of best will make way for complacency. Instead if you keep company of the very talented, there’ll be an aspiration to level those who are good. So keep your benchmarks higher. Be with those who aim for only the best and you will have a reason to consistently try.
When I was young, I was with people who had this fascination for a 9 to 5 job. They were always on a lookout for something stable. What they aimed for was a fixed monthly income, with less or if possible no risks attached. This stable earning meant a good wife, small family and eventually a flat in a decent area. Reasonably good, isn’t it? With them, I also thought on the same lines. I too wanted a job and family and etc., etc. Situation however changed for me. Dad got a new job and we moved to another city; new surroundings, new friends. With this new circle, an important change happened. I was no longer amongst people who were happy working 9 to 5. Now those around me spoke about the most successful. My new group was always high on energy. My peers were busy making collages of the best CEOs or the business tycoons, whom they admired. Now everybody around me wanted to prove a point. More than basics, the aim was for the top. I grew fond of this habit of aiming high.
After years I had a chance to go back and meet my friends of those earlier days. With them I was surprised, I felt like a total stranger. They were talking about home loans. Somebody was complaining about the hike in school fee. Another one of them was not very delighted with the mall culture. Most of them were suffering from high blood pressure or diabetes or weight issues. At the outset, their problems were different, but deep inside it all boiled down to one single point. This group always wanted a mediocre life, which was easy to achieve, but after that there was nothing. All these people were always after complacency and once they became complacent, there was nothing beyond. I could sense it, because I had been with them and with those, who were not dreamers of complacency. It was the opportunity to be with the dynamic lot, which helped me grow, beyond my initial dimensions. Just because I had this chance of being with those who craved for success, that I succeeded. Had I been with my earlier group, I too would have been ok, to be just average.
Drifting from the contentment mode to complacency act is easy, especially when success has been a result of hard efforts. However it is important that we strive to avoid complacency. So one must remember that success is not the last goal, it rather is the route map to way thereafter. So if you have always wanted to be a doctor, getting a degree should not allow you to enter the complacency mode. Look up higher. See what others have achieved in your profession. Make your goals for the next stage. They may be earning money and popularity or working their best for humankind. But whatever you must do, always have a vision for tomorrow. A blank approach will only lead to failure. After so much hard work, would you let that happen to you? Not indeed, so work hard and as you achieve your gaols, aim for the new ones. Let complacency never cross your way!
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