I can think of no other force so strong as to keep individuals range bound in variations of sameness throughout their entire lives as effectively as complacency. I guess self-destruction would be worse but complacency itself is a form of self-destruction.
Complacency is defined as – a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like; self-satisfaction or smug satisfaction with an existing situation, condition, etc. (Dictionary.com).
Just like the law of Entropy (Δ g) which states systems and matter tend to go from an organized state to one of disorganization and randomness, people can go from a highly adaptable prevailing state of dissatisfaction to abject complacency if they are not perpetually vigilant.
You might say, wait a minute. Who lives perpetually dissatisfied? Who would want to? It’s a fair question. I’ll tell you who – artists, innovators, entrepreneurs, writers, engineers, designers, singers, actors, CEO’s, musicians and athletes just to name a few.
To pursue excellence is to be perpetually dissatisfied with the status quo. Complacency is the end of life as you could have known it. Complacency is the lethal enemy of excellence.
How is it, then, so many people sit down in life and accept the comfortable misery of variations in sameness? There are many reasons. Here is an unvarnished, non-PC listing of the seven most common ones.
- Self-imposed Limitations – The belief your are not good enough or capable. Keywords: “I can’t.”
- Laziness – Attempting to become content in life looks too much like hard work. Keywords: “I won’t.”
- Comfortable Misery – Change is feared or considered more painful or difficult than staying put. Keyword: Slave (to the status quo)
- Boredom – A state is reached where the sense of wonder and curiosity has been lost. Keywords: Brain Death
- False Sense of Security and Well-Being – The mistaken notion that sense nothing bad has happened, it never will so I can relax and let my guard down. Keyword: Delusional
- Inactivity – A continuous state of feeling too tired to exercise regularly. Keywords: Couch Potato
- Inattentiveness – We see what we wish to see rather than what is glaringly apparent to everyone else. Keyword: Fool
Recognizing complacency is one thing. Doing something about it is quite another. It isn’t just a matter of doing the exact opposite of all that causes complacency. It is has more to do with adopting a certain lifestyle, a certain attitude. One in which the status quo is hell, and pushing the boundaries of excellence is a stairway to haven.
Opposite of complacency are concern, interest, discontent and dissatisfaction. This does not mean you must be unhappy to be non-complacent. You can feel any of these and still be a happy person. For sheer joy is to be found in the remedy for these, in the pursuit of excellence.
To pursue excellence one can not keep station with the status quo. Convention must be upended. Criticism, even ridicule, must become a real risk. To shun variations in sameness will make many around you uncomfortable with envy, jealousy and anger.
If you should strike out in the pursuit of excellence, some will do their best to talk you into staying put. Or, even sabotage your efforts to break free of complacency. They will tell you that the road you have chosen is highly unusual. That it will be too hard. Or, your chances of success are almost zero. They are the complacent ones voicing their dissatisfaction, not with their own lives but, with your non-complacent attitude.
All across America, people sit and gawk at flat screen TV’s squawking out the latest surreal unreal reality show, never seeking to improve themselves by reading a book, taking a course, learning a new skill, visiting a museum, traveling to an unknown destination, starting a new business, putting brush to canvas or pen to paper. They are the socially engineered, totally complacent and acceptable carbon copy zombies of the status quo. I should know. I used to be one of them.
If you are reading this now, please tell me you are not one who favors complacency. If you are, it is never too late to make something happen. Life is short, too short for bystander status. You can upgrade your living status at any time and it’s free. All you need do is become dissatisfied with the status quo and willing to do something about it.
If you are already in the continuous pursuit of excellence then you are engaged in the truest pursuit of happiness. It’s the quiet dissatisfaction you harbor for the status quo which drives you forward in the service of others using your unique set of natural talents and abilities. Complacency will never claim your life, as long as you are vigilant.