We all have one: A comfort zone. That place where we feel cozy, comfortable and safe. Our little cocoon where we don’t have to experience the discomfort of the unfamiliar. Where “good enough” is good enough. Where we can just relax, enjoy the same old routines, environments, relationships, experiences and skills that got us to where we are today. Because if it got me here, it’s good enough to keep me safe, right? Wrong. Very wrong. Death by complacency is real.Just like the frog in the boiling water, complacency kills. It kills careers, it kills relationships, it kills bright futures and … it kills frogs.
If you don’t know what I’ve referring to, there is a fable that says that if you drop a frog in a boiling pot of water, it will jump out immediately to survive. However, if you place it in a pot of lukewarm water and very slowly heat it up, the frog will get used to the temperature change and not realize that it has a problem until it is too late. (Please don’t do this at home! This is only an analogy!) The lesson, however, is true and powerful. When we become complacent in our comfort zones and we don’t notice the environment around us changing, we might think we are surviving, even thriving when we are, in fact, slowly dying.
How Would you Define Complacency?
Maybe you think you know what complacency means, but a quick search in the various dictionaries reveal some scary definitions.
My summary might look something like this: A smug, non-critical self-satisfaction and false sense of security that prevents your from challenging yourself and makes you unaware of your own deficiencies and external threats. Wow! That sounds pretty brutal.
Well, that doesn’t sound like me.
You think ? Unfortunately most of us have a tendency to be much more lenient in our self-evaluation than we are in evaluating others, let me ask you a few questions.
You see, you might think you’re pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, but pushing yourself past complacency is actually hard work. It takes extra effort, time and money and those are resources we’re not always willing to spend. So we fall back to comfort and settle into the comfy couch where the water is nice and warm …
How to Avoid Being Eaten by a Bear
Global competition, instant gratification and customer expectations has created a new world and a new workplace where the following truths exist:
What does this all have to do with getting eaten by a bear? Think about it this way. When you’re in a group of people being chased by a bear, do you have to out run the bear or do you only have to out run the slowest person in the group? Sorry, a little dark humor, but a good lesson nonetheless. This is the essence of the threat of complacency: If you are not growing yourself, your career or your skills faster than the world around you, you are being out-paced by your competition and you are slowly becoming “bear food”. Your are in danger of getting killed by complacency.
In her video titled “Why Reinvention? Why Now? (which I highly recommend watching), Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva from chiefreinventionofficer.com describes how the cycle of businesses, products and careers have shrunk from 75 years before the 1980’s to 15 years in the early 1990’s to the current staggeringly short 7 years. That means if you’re not reinventing yourself or your business every 3.5 years, you are on the downslope of the cycle and on your way down to obsolescence. Scary, isn’t it ?
Practical Tips and ToDo’s
It is always a pet peeve of mine when books or articles tell to improve something without telling you have to do it. So here goes. Here are 5 practical ways to start the process of self-improvement and out pacing your competition.
In the current environment, you are either driving change, or you are being driven by it. Don’t let complacency rob you of your potential and your future. Don’t get eaten by the bear.
Run hard, run smart and live your life to the max.