Thursday, January 8

Accepting Temporary: Complacency Is Circular

Last night, I noticed something unusual at my gym. Typically, Gold's Gym is packed with "resolution members," people who made fitness resolutions for the New Year. After two weeks, most of them conclude that it isn't working and slowly fade away into whatever daily routines seem more comfortable. Not this year.

When I shared the observation that my gym was void of resolution members this year, PJ Perez suggested "overweight Americans have accepted their designations."

He's right, but I'm not so sure we're talking about fitness. Eighty-five percent of people voting on a news poll believe that the economy will get worse before it gets better, and only 33 percent have faith that President-elect Barack Obama's administration will be able to turn the economy around.

When the question had been asked during the election cycle, those numbers were considerably higher. It's one of the reasons he won. So what changed? People aren't certain the Obama administration can turn the economy around because Obama has yet to change campaign criticism into a confident challenge. Consider the following …

"I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible," Obama said in a speech set to be delivered at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., outside Washington.

Most speechwriters know that "but" cancels out everything that precedes it. Then again, I'm not talking about politics. I'm talking about the acceptance of what seems to be and complacency as opposed to acknowledging what is and moving forward.

You see, complacency is circular in that it occurs in companies, countries, and people at two ends of the spectrum — when things are too good or when things are too bad. In either case, complacency is the general acceptance of a temporary situation or state of being as if it is permanent (or who we are). So if you haven't already, right now might be a good time to kick around the concept of complacency as a conversation in your office.

Are you making decisions based on (or complaining about) temporary situations? And if so, what happens if and when those temporary situations change? Will those decisions put you in a position to win or ensure you remain in the same place — at the bottom of the complacency circle (which might be where your company started anyway)?

Or in other words, if your company is waiting it out, you might rethink that. After all, times will change. They always do. It's the only certainty.


Pj Perez on 1/8/09, 5:58 PM said...

Huh. Interesting context in which to anchor our discussion.

On a macro level, I'm not sure if it's necessarily complacent to accept "oh, we are in a fiscal crisis, there is nothing we can do but ride it out." Defeatist, yes, complacent -- not so sure.

But you're right. Making decisions now based on what are sure to be temporary circumstances (though, aren't ALL things temporary?) is not an advisable path. That's what gets us into messes in the first place. Instead of looking ahead, we look at the present, and plan based on that. It just doesn't work. I did that in college with taking excessive loans and ended up with debt I now regret. Home buyers took loans they could afford for one or two years without minding how much those mortgage payments would jump nor how they'd afford it. And companies such as Steve & Barry's and Starbucks over-expanded without seeing the coming financial storm, leaving them to close dozens of stores -- and worse.

Thanks for the link, by the way. :)

Rich on 1/9/09, 1:20 PM said...


Yeah, after your comment, I curve balled it.

Complacency is self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. So, I think it fits (even if some if is down right defeatism).

And yes, all things are temporary and our general unwillingness to accept that did help put us in this mess. It's one of the reasons I believe in processes that help people make situational decisions based on a changing environment vs. cookie cutter models that suggest we always adopt and stick with what worked for the other guy or gal or business (despite the fact that might not have known what they were doing anyway).

For example, 59 percent of retail businesses now have a Facebook presence. How could someone possibly planned for that in 2004? (I mean, besides Peter Thiel)? And who knows what new application is being developed right now that may one day unseat Facebook? Since we cannot, the better thought processes are less present sensitive and, perhaps, a little less linear.

As for think, no need to thank me. I've becoming a fast fan of your work. You killed it with last year's Christmas video. :)

All my best,

Pj Perez on 1/9/09, 2:20 PM said...

Christmas video = pinnacle of my YouTube career.

Sad. ;)

Mark Harai on 11/15/13, 6:19 AM said...

Hey Rich - People believe they conscientiously make choices based on information, facts, and what they think or believe they want... But the reality is their behaviors, choices, and actions don't line up with that...

In fact, in over-whelming majority of cases, people behave the same exact way for the same exact reasons, not having a clue of why they're in the "circle of insanity" they find themselves in year in, year out, with very little to no change. Ever.

Until an individual goes deeper into themselves to understand why their behavior and choices don't line up with they think or believe they want, they will NEVER get the results or change they desire.

Every human being on the planet has barriers. Things that keep them locked down in patterns and behaviors that ultimately dissappointment. Until that is dealt with, that circle of insanity will be their circle of reality for the rest of their life.

You would be amazed as to how simple it is for folks to access their individual brilliance, genius, and gifts to break that circle of insanity and finally achieve the happiness, fulfillment, and life of their dreams.

Our country, and the globe is going through, in some cases, horrific suffering and pain - and I believe in my heart of hearts, it's just a necessary evil in the process of dramatic change that's going to usher in a new level of consciousnesses, awareness, fulfillment, hope, and joy for all.

We just need to turn on the fricken lights and get out from under the spell of small-minded, lustful, power-hungry, ignorant men. That day is coming sooner than you might think.



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