I read a book recently by John Kotter called A Sense of Urgency. It was well worth the read and provided some great inspiration for taking action at work in ways that can easily be applied to life.

One of the concepts that he writes about is complacency. I think that I understand a thing or two about complacency. I would argue that we all do. We go along, living our lives; maybe things are even rolling along relatively smoothly. We get into a routine, sometimes we don’t even have to think about what we are doing, we just do it. No drama, no fighting. In essence, we are going through the motions of our lives.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just happens.

Then one day, we wake up and wonder where the last week, month, year, five years or more have gone. We wonder when we stopped dreaming and planning for the future. I spent several years owning a business that consumed my energy, goals and my very soul. Then we closed the business and spent some time mourning the loss and paying off the bills.


When that was all done, I took a deep breath and let out a long sigh. That sigh lasted a couple of years. I got into the habit of keeping things in order, checking things off the list, and feeling successful in my comfortable box.

Keeping things tidy breeds complacency.

In my work as a facilitator, I often challenge participants to let go of the everyday when working to change. I tell them to take a new way to work the next day. More often than not, we get complacent with our drive, we lose ourselves in thoughts of dinner and bills and forget to look around us, to engage, to pay attention. Take a new way to work, and all of a sudden, you have to think about which way to turn, you notice new things, you change the rhythm of your brain, for even a few minutes and suddenly you solve a problem that has been plaguing you for days.

Try it.

Becoming aware of complacency is really the first step toward change. It might be uncomfortable and it might even be difficult but it will be worth it.