5 Signs That Complacency is Killing Your Dreams

And What To Do About It!

Complacency is the silent killer of success. You enjoy some success and then you back off. You do something great and then you slow down. It’s human nature and something you must fight against. Here are five signs that complacency may be killing your dream, and what you can do about it.

1. You compare yourself to others to gauge your success

Legendary basketball coach, John Wooden said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

Pro Tip: Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to the you that you are capable of becoming. Challenge yourself every day to grow in some small way.  Work on creating your personal development plan.

2. You don’t have a clear goal

Many people embrace complacency because they just don’t know where they want to go. If you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.

Pro Tip: Spend a few minutes thinking of where you would like to be 12 months from now in your work life and in your personal life. Once you know that, determine 3-6 things that you need to do to begin moving in that direction.

3. You are not clear on your priorities

If everything seems important then nothing is important. You must be clear on your most important tasks. Most of us are trying to do too many things. We become experts at majoring on minor things.

Pro Tip: Your priorities, your BIG Rocks, should consist of the things you need to do to move closer to the goal you set in Item #2 above.

4. You fill available time with entertainment

There is nothing wrong with entertainment. What’s wrong is when you fill any open time you have with your Netflix subscription. The people I coach often tell me they don’t have time for some of the personal development suggestions I give them (Read a book, listen to a podcast, etc.). Then, when we look deeper at where their time is spent or invested we find a healthy dose of entertainment keeping them from making progress in their lives.

Pro Tip: Use your daily commute or other travel time to listen to audio books (www.audible.com). Be intentional about when you SPEND time on entertainment, and be intentional about when you INVEST time in you.

5. You use words like, “I don’t have the time”, instead of “I didn’t take the time”.

The one phrase I do not allow people to say is, “I don’t have time to…” The fact is that we all have the same amount of time. The more accurate phrasing is, “I didn’t take the time to…”

You vote on what’s important in your life (a priority) based on how you spend or invest your time. If it’s something you want to do you will find a way to do it. If not, you will find an excuse.

Pro Tip: Never use the words “I didn’t have time” again. Always say, “I didn’t take the time”. Take note of the things you did do with your time and see if it matches up to what you said was important in your life.

Photo Credit: Graphicstock.com

All Of Us Are Smarter Than One Of Us

I once worked for a senior executive who said, “If our success is dependent on my brains alone, we are in trouble.” He made it clear that he expected each of us to participate by thinking about the business as if it were our own. I learned this about him the hard way, but it is a lesson I will never forget.

One day, during our regular staff meeting, after he had just made a presentation to the team about what we would be doing over the next six months, he looked at me and asked me what I thought.

Being quick-witted and always looking for a laugh, I said, “I think what you think boss; what do you think?”

There were a few chuckles around the room as my boss sat back in his chair.

“Can I give you a tip?” he asked me.

“Sure.”, I said, sitting up a little bit straighter in my chair.

He leaned in a bit and loud enough for everyone to hear said, “If you and I think the same thing then one of us won’t be necessary, and it won’t be me!”

I thought that was a pretty good tip and it taught me a lesson that I have passed on to every person on every team that I ever led – you should always be prepared with a point of view. If you do not have a point of view on what is being discussed then decline the meeting.

My boss was right, all of us are smarter than one of us and he insisted that each of us think like business owners, not like hired hands. He knew that if he could leverage the 10 smart people in the room his chances of leading us to success went up by a factor of 10.

Photo Credit – www.graphicstock.com

Storytelling to Drive Results

Before I got married I am pretty sure I had never once been in an antique store. I figured I had worked hard to get a degree and get a job so I could buy new things. Why would anyone want to buy old things? But, as I said, that was before I got married. Since that time antique stores have become almost a weekly event and I am actually finally learning how to enjoy them.

One thing I notice in antique stores is how something that looks like a piece of junk can take on a completely different appearance when the person offering the junk puts a story with it. “Yes sir, that pocket watch you hold in your hands may not look like much, but let me tell you a little bit about that baby…” You might as well hand over the credit card right then.

Adding Value, Making a Connection

When I was first working my way up the public speaking ladder from one small event to another I would often overwhelm my audiences with facts and figures and PowerPoint charts that would test the limits for words on a page. I was less than engaging. Then I learned the power of stories. I decided that the minute I was introduced I would start a story. No “hello”, no “good to be here”, just a standing start right into a story. The response was amazing. My connection with the audience grew as did their engagement with me and my subject.

Why Does Story Connect

NYU Psychologist, Jonathan Haidt was quoted as saying, “The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.” From the responses I see when I resort to story to communicate a teaching point I would say he is 100% correct.

Stories capture attention and open a door for a deeper connection. I once started a story by talking about my teenage son. I saw people in the audience begin to smile and shake their heads. “Yep, my boy does that exact same thing.” They would mouth to each other.

Stories make you seem human, especially if the story is about you and a challenge you have faced and overcome. People respond very positively to authenticity and humility in others. Plus, telling a story on yourself almost always generates a laugh and the only thing better than a story is a funny story.

Getting Started

If you think that storytelling is for creative people and you’re not creative, well you need to get over yourself and try anyway. I usually start with the point I want to make and then think of situations where that has happen to me or where I saw it happen to someone else. If I need to change names or circumstances to keep things anonymous I will do that.

Here’s an example: When my son was a teenager and looking for a job, he secured an interview with a local company. I suggested he wear a suit to the interview, but he didn’t think that was necessary for the type of job he was going for. Now, I could have argued with him about it, but instead I sat back in my chair and smiled, “That reminds me of a time when I went to an interview when I was about your age. I was applying for a stockroom job so I wore casual pants and a dress shirt. When I walked into the interview the person I was meeting barked at me, “You don’t own a suit!” I assured him I did and he barked again, “Don’t you think today would have been the day to wear it??” He dismissed me with no further questions. Turns out they did originally need stockroom help, but were now looking for certain individuals to help them up front with some customer service work. A higher paying job, might I add.”

My son looked at me and quietly said, “I’ll wear the suit.”

Stories communicate on a different level and help you connect strongly with others.

Photo Credit – www.graphicstock.com

Mind Your Face, Be a Difference Maker

The Smile Test

Maybe it’s because I am out and about a lot, but it seems that people are angry. Each week I visit a new airport or country only to find the same stern and serious faces on the people I encounter. This caused me to do a face-check on myself…guess what, I too was defaulting to a stern, serious, angry looking presentation.

The Choice

So, I decided to do a little test. I decided that every time I am walking in a public place (airport, restaurant, hotel lobby, city street) no matter where in the world I am, I am going to smile. I am going to smile “at people” and I am going to smile in general as I move from place to place. By the way, it is a decision, a choice as to how you are going to present yourself. Default position – frown, stern, serious. Choice position – smiling, grinning, happy.

The Findings

The first thing I learned was be careful about smiling too much in airports. I think the TSA was following me to see if I was up to something. I’m kidding, but smiling in airports is so unusual that I half expected that to be true.

As I began to “mind my face”, I noticed an unusual response from others.

  • Some folks smiled back, and generally with a slight nod that said, “greetings”.
  • Some folks had a grin and a visible loosening of their shoulders that said, “good for you”.
  • Some folks just had a loosening of their own facial expression that said, “nice”.
  • Some folks kept scowling that said, “what are you smiling about…I’ll knock that smile….” (you get the point)

The Lesson

Here is what I learned:

  1. It’s just as easy to smile at folks as it is to scowl.
  2. Everyone is dealing with something and my smile, as small and insignificant as it is in their life, provides a moment of kindness.
  3. People in general don’t know how angry they look, I know I didn’t.
  4. You will stand out in a crowd if you smile versus scowl.
  5. It will make you feel better, more grateful, more thankful, less stressed
  6. It will make others feel noticed.

Just a final word about #6. I believe that everything happens for a reason. From time to time, a well placed smile can lead to a conversation. These conversations are usually short and very surface level conversations. After one of these short interactions on an airplane the guy that I smiled at and spoke to turned back to me as he was walking away and said, “thank you for making me feel seen”. That troubled me for the rest of that day and few more after it. What an odd thing to say. Then it hit me, a lot of people go through life feeling invisible to others; like they don’t matter and no one cares. A smile was all I did to make that man feel seen. To me it was a smile in passing. To him it was a lifeline that said, “I matter”.

Smile more, bark less as the bumper sticker says, well kind of, at least that’s what it should say. You never know what your smile will say to someone you pass.

Photo Credit – GraphicStock.com