Is success a breeding ground for complacency?


Bill Gates said “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose.”

This is why, once you have achieved anything, you run the risk of sitting on your achievement and basking in the accolades long after the moment is gone. How do you know if complacency has set in for you?

John P Kotter suggests asking the following questions:

· Are team conversations inwardly focused, and not about new markets, emerging technologies or potential competitors?

· Are past failures discussed only to stall new initiatives, rather than as learning experiences?

· Do important meetings end with no decisions about what needs to happen immediately?

· Do workers regularly blame others for problems, as opposed to taking responsibility and changing behaviour?

· Are highly selective facts used to shoot down data that suggests there is a major challenge or opportunity knocking at the door?

To understand why this happens we need to take a look at the journey to succeeding at just about anything:

Stage 1: Creation (occurs in metaphysical reality).

Stage 2: Lift off (transition from metaphysical to physical). "Trouble at the border" requires most energy, subtle movement.

Stage 3: Momentum (flow). Enjoy results, pace yourself

Stage 4: Stability (mastery). Beware of entropy, finish

Stage 5: Breakthrough (create new goal)

The trouble usually occurs at stage four. You start enjoying the fruits of your hard work.

· Your client base has grown to the point where people naturally refer others to you

· You no longer have to call others for speaking engagements – they are calling you

· You have been keeping a regular training schedule and in just two weeks you will complete your first marathon

· You just have one more chapter to go before you can submit your book manuscript.

At this stage we usually reach our goal, but instead of celebrating and enjoying our success and then setting a new goal challenge, or deciding on stretching and perhaps addressing ways we could improve and grow – we settle.

· We begin taking short cuts.

· We are not as attentive to detail as we need to be

· We begin to settle for “OK”.

Author Mark Groves asks: How many people do you think are settling? People settle into okay relationships, okay jobs, okay friends and an okay life. Why? Because okay is comfortable. Okay pays the bills, and provides a warm bed at night. And that’s okay for some people except you would be lying if somewhere inside of you, there was not a voice telling you that there is more.

This is John P Kotter’s view on the issue: “More often than not, great accomplishments cause individuals and organisations to become comfortable with their way of doing things. Businesses turn static. Workers turn their focus inward. Even the most dynamic of organisations can turn complacent, thinking that what they are doing is right, that there is no need to change, regardless of what’s happening outside... My own research over more than three decades has shown the same results: despite being better prepared to take bold action, companies with a high level of achievement tend to feel content with the status quo. They sit tight. They focus on themselves. And they ignore the rapidly changing world around them, even in the face of cold, hard facts that clearly show the need to move in a new direction.”

It’s almost as if we are afraid of returning to the first stage of the success journey, at liftoff, and starting again. We don’t want to take risks so we hide behind our achievements. We give the same speeches, teach the same programs, offer the same solutions and often hear ourselves saying “because this is the way we have always done it.”

Unless we have a mindset for growth, unless we open our minds to possibility we are going to die inside, even though we seem to be moving on the outside. Like the TV series, the Walking Dead, it would be as if a zombie apocalypse hit us all. Complacency is a cancer to innovation and productivity.

Today is the day to look at yourself, your life... and see ways that you are settling. You should be aiming higher than you have ever aimed before.

What would you like to start?

What has been needling at your heart with a quiet excitement you find difficult to ignore?

Today is the day you stop dreaming about it and start doing the things you know you’re capable of doing that will make it happen. For your free copy of “How to Stop Putting off the Things you want Most!” send an email to ™


"Is success a breeding ground for complacency?"

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