This may sound out of place, but did you know success can be a trap? It’s hard to imagine this is true, but more individuals and companies have fallen into this trap than we’d care to admit. In the recent books, American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company and Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, the authors identify that both companies had been hugely successful, but they had fallen into the trap of success. They had become complacent.
When we’ve been good or great for so long, it’s easy to assume we’ll always be good or great. When we lead the market, it’s hard to imagine that someone could overtake us. This type of thinking slipped into Ford and Starbucks. As a result they allowed short-cuts to be taken. They drifted away from some of their core values. They even relaxed because of their success. Within a short period, they found they were falling behind.
Both Ford and Starbucks had to make major adjustments between 2006 and 2010. Their years of success has lured them into the trap of complacency. Fortunately, they lead themselves out of those traps by returning to their values and vision. Customers have once again lifted them up as the best in their markets. But they must be on guard against the trap of success.
What areas in your life do you feel as though you’ve become a success or successful?
How can you guard against complacency in those areas?
Here are a few suggestions on how to guard against complacency:
1. Deepen Your Faith. Recognize that what success you are experiencing is a result of your work and God’s blessing. Additionally, your faith in God and yourself will help you see there is more ahead.
2. Look Ahead, Not Behind. The future is more motivating than the past. When we look behind us, we see where we’ve been. When we look ahead, we see how far we have to go.
3. Rest, Don’t Relax. We need rest. God teaches us to rest throughout the scriptures. Rest is critical for us to recharge. When we relax, we lose our edge. When we relax, we lose focus. When we relax, it’s easy to settle. When we rest, we know there is more to the journey.
4. Return to Your Why. This is an odd statement. When you’ve reached a point of success, return to the big idea behind your endeavor. Why did you start this? Why have you worked so hard? Why is it worth it? I find “why” questions very motivating.
What suggestions would you add to avoiding complacency, the trap of success?