Do you think you’re successful? Believe your personal engine is firing on all cylinders? Happy to sit back and watch the money and accolades roll in? Content with the current level of backslapping, high-fiving and general sucking-up occurring in your organization? Well, good for you sunshine. Have a seat! Do you need a pillow? A drink? Shall I peel a grape for you?
Why yes, that is my foot buried in your ass. Read on, mon frère.
Dew and Dust Bunnies
Humanoids are very adaptable. Given a few years of evolution, we could all live in empty milk cartons and draw sustenance from dew and dust bunnies. And here lies the problem – we get used to stuff too easily. Take success as an example. After you’ve worked hard and made the smart decisions, you get to reap the rewards. But is there a danger of becoming complacent, of forgetting how you got that job done? There sure is – I see it all the time. It can happen very easily in certain professions (pop stars, actors, athletes). When everyone you know (i.e. everyone on your payroll) insists that you’re brilliant, sexy, unbeatable, hilarious – after a while you get used to it and tend to believe them. It happens to us regular folks too, but in a slightly different way. You start your career full of piss and vinegar, but over time normal problems pop up like bills, kids, and fixing things you had to have that now are broken. Let’s pretend someone came up to you at a barbecue after all that and asked “I hear you work at XYZ Corp – what’s it like?” What do you think that person’s most likely answer would be?
Death by Complacency
The wrong one. Anything other than “We have accomplished some exciting things and I really enjoy the challenges we face” is death by complacency. But the most likely answer is something like “It’s OK, it pays the bills.”
That’s inspiring. What if the inquirer was a recruiter, or a new neighbor starting a business, or Mark Cuban’s business manager? I guarantee if THAT was your reply you would never hear from any of them again.
When is Good, Good Enough?
So back to the problem at hand. How does one avoid falling into the trap of coasting through life on the glory of past success? When is good, good enough? For me, the answer is….never. I have to work harder than anyone I know to justify drawing breath. What makes me nervous? I don’t know you, or you or you. I don’t see this as fear, but a motivational rocket booster to the land of milk and honey. If you recently experienced a great success, how did you do it? What was your decision tree? Who did you bounce ideas off of – who helped you get it done? Keep your focus and if needed, adjust your future strategy. The same is true if you just experienced a failure – what happened? Don’t accept it – learn from it. It’s ironic that “getting used” to success leads to the same result as getting used to failure.
Peyton Manning once asked, “Do you want to make things happen or do you want to watch things happen?” Exactly.
I’ll take my foot back now.