Jack was very successful in his job. In business development, he was consistently one of the top two performers every quarter in bringing in business. His bosses were complementary of his performance. He really enjoyed the people he worked with. The culture of the organization was inviting, friendly and conformed to his personal values. The mission of the organization was one he supported and embraced. Things were going great.
Until a new boss was hired. Within a year, Jack was let go. In a huge surprise to himself, he was out of a job. Despondent and dealing with a loss of confidence, he was in a place he never expected to be.
Jack was the victim of many things. But the most important one was his own Complacency.
“Complacency – a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger”
“Unaware of some potential danger.” The words “uncritical satisfaction” are also used to define complacency. We are happy, pleased, satisfied, unaware. Danger might be around the corner, but we are not looking or thinking about that danger. We are focused – perhaps rightly, but with naivete – on the good things going on. Don’t we have a right to relax a little? Life throws us enough curves that when we have something good going for us, we want to be able to enjoy the good times.
You might think “who wants to be a worrywart, a person who tends to worry habitually and often needlessly?” No one wants to be the eternal pessimist. None of us like to be around a person who is worrying all the time. So complacency may seem to be logical.
But it is not. .
I understand we do not want necessarily want to embrace change all of the time. But I believe that change is going to be served to us in a continual pattern. We cannot avoid it.
How many people, like Jack, do you know that have lost a job and are stunned? Caught totally unaware? Who “didn’t see it coming”? Or who “thought they could make it through the change unscathed”? Who settled in comfortably, doing their job amidst turmoil all around them?
Complacency is the enemy.
Choosing to confront complacency does not mean you have to be displeased with your situation. Enjoy it if things are going well! As an analogy, if you have a garden with flowers that are blooming, you should enjoy them. But that does not mean you don’t stop weeding the garden. That doesn’t mean you don’t look for bug damage. You make sure you have gardening gloves and items to protect your flowers at home in case of a problem. You plan ahead and are prepared.
It is the same thing with your job. Enjoy your job while you have it. Be glad if you are excited about going to work every day (that’s the way it should be). But that doesn’t mean you should not spend a little time planning for a future before the skies inevitably turn dark. Change will happen – whether you want it to or not. Your company will get sold. Your boss moves on. A new leader is announced. Technology comes into play. Your co-workers leave. The market for your business changes drastically. Your position gets transferred to a new city. Your significant other gets a great opportunity somewhere else.
It is so much easier to think clearly when you are not under a lot of stress and pressure. It is much more comfortable to plan for the future when you are doing it on your own deadline, not someone else’s. So planning while things are going well is the most logical way to approach the subject.
To paraphrase a saying I heard recently: “To wait to create a career plan until after you lose your job is like waiting to create a financial plan after you declared bankruptcy. It’s too late.” Don’t be too late. Start planning now. Shed the complacency.