As we unfortunately have just reached the two-month mark of being away from Yeshiva, without an end in sight, we tend to become all too familiar with our daily routine. As the saying goes, “familiarity breeds contempt,” but I believe familiarity also breeds complacency. Our time becomes more about surviving, when instead we should focus on growing and thriving. In the following communication, I have expounded on complacency, why it is so harmful, and what we can do to avoid and defeat it, to help us lead more successful, productive lives.
Rabbi Yehuda Kamenetzky, M.Ed., NCC
The phrase, “it is what it is” becomes the motto for many people who allow complacency to dictate their lives and way of thinking. In fact, that phrase indicates complacency has overtaken their ability to transform their results.
Complacency is like a virus dormant in your system. It is lurking to kill your goals, dreams, and success. It has the power to rob you blind of new experience, positive change, and personal growth. The worst thing about complacency is the affected person is usually unaware that he or she is at risk.
Complacency occurs in all of us. It is present in our personal life and career. However, success is determined by your ability to effectively avoid or move away from complacency.
Here are five ways to defeat or prevent complacency:
1. Let Others Have Influence – As people who desire to be productive, we need to listen and be wise, vulnerable and courageous enough to allow others to have influence on our ways of doing things. I know what you are thinking, being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. That thinking is out of date. In fact, I believe vulnerability is a sign of strength, creativity, and openness. Vulnerability displaces complacency by ensuring we are allowing others to influence when and where we need it. Let’s face it, complacency itself is the inability to think differently. Outside influence will enable us to consider other ways of breeding success.
2. Challenge the Status Quo – Evaluate your goals often. As complacency sets in, our ability to think differently is minimized by our inability to process anything other than what we already know. Instead of seeing the opportunity to move forward, we wait to seek permission and find ourselves passed up by great opportunities. When we fail to challenge the status quo, we allow complacency to discourage our intentions and thus weaken our ability to contribute to success.
3. Be Curious – Albert Einstein once said, “I have no special talents, I am just passionately curious.” What we know is all we know. Without a curious mind and curious heart, we become stagnant in our thoughts and ideas. This allows complacency to become our comfort place. We become indifferent. Indifference leads to routines and creates a complacent spirit. Curiosity, on the other hand, promotes change and adventure and a desire to always improve. Curiosity requires wisdom and courage, just like the explorers who first set off around the globe. When you are in exploration mode, you may be moving forward or side-to-side, but you never go backward. You put yourself in a position to create influence rather than falling into the traps of complacency.
4. Kick Laziness Out our Lives – So far we’ve seen that complacency results from our lack of desire to allow others to influence, challenging the status quo and the lack of curiosity. Why is that? Because we prefer to remain idle and do nothing. We are just lazy. We accept where we are at and what we have accomplished, and there is no desire to do anything more. This creates a complacent environment where we accept our current position. We may have a desire to be better than we are, but we don’t do anything about it. One of my mentors once told me, “Be like a thermostat.” When I looked at him curiously, he explained, “A thermometer tells you the temperature but a thermostat does something about it.” Laziness puts our careers and relationships on hold. We become stagnant and accept our current performance as ideal. Success has no room for laziness. Become a person who desires perfection! We must be like Nike, “Just Do It.”
5. Keep Hope Alive At All Cost – Regardless of your life situation or the status of your personal or business relationships, hope will always shine a positive light. Hope drives our desire for accomplishment. Hope is the belief that circumstances in the future will be better. It’s not just a wish that things will get better, but an actual belief, akin to the emunah we have as Jews, even when there may be no evidence that to support it. Talent, skill, and ability get you in the game, but hope is the motivation that keeps you there, and ultimately helps you win.
Someone once said, “Complacency is the greatest enemy of success, yet, success can lead to complacency.” Complacency robs us of our success and achievements. It creates a way of thinking that blocks our ability to achieve the great things we desire. In fact, complacency sneaks up on us so fast that we don’t realize we’ve become complacent until someone points it out.
Let us all take a proactive approach to preventing complacency by evaluating our current personal and business positions and taking action to defeat and even avoid complacency.