To commemorate the new year, Robert Herjavec, famously known for his role on ABC's Shark Tank, took to LinkedIn to share his top habits for success.
Although the tips were helpful, there were a couple of sentences in his opening paragraph that caught my attention.
"One thing I always say is that you need to be in a place of pain to make change. I firmly believe that," he wrote. "Real change -- yes tough, fundamental life change -- doesn't happen when things are going well and you're coasting."
It's easy to fall into a coasting pattern at work and home. Things are going well, we get accustomed to a routine, and before you know it, we become complacent. Complacency is dangerous because it's often associated with a general lack of self-awareness. We get comfortable, we stop asking questions, and we become unaware of our flaws.
The topic of complacency recently came up with a mentor of mine. To challenge me to push the constraints of my professional brand and increase my organizational impact, they asked me to consider ways to interject some constructive tension into my work.
In a nutshell, constructive tension is healthy pressure in a relationship that spurs open and honest communication while remaining professional. In other words, you need to put yourself in uncomfortable situations deliberately. These situations could be standing up for yourself in meetings, interjecting your thoughts and opinions, or taking on more ownership at work.
In an article that David Taylor, the CEO of P&G, published on LinkedIn, he encouraged all to be intentional about seeking out uncomfortable and challenging work.
When we're comfortable, we start to get relaxed. We accept things the way they are, and we do not feel motivated to change. I'd go so far as to argue that if you're not a little uncomfortable, you're probably not being challenged enough. ... To be at our best, each of us needs to challenge ourselves whenever we start feeling comfortable.
In my experience, people become complacent because they don't deliberately bind themselves to a compelling vision. For example, a career goal of mine is to reinvent HR's lame reputation. Even if you're not in human resources, you know what I'm talking about -- think of Toby from The Office. The principal's office, the fun police, non-strategic, and anti-technology are just a few of the negative HR stereotypes that come to mind.
If I'm going to have any chance of changing these perceptions, then I'll have to be intentional about using every opportunity to recast the brand. If not, then the status quo will dig the hole deeper.
To ensure that you don't fall victim to complacency, create a motivating vision, hold yourself to it, and consistently reevaluate your progress to ensure that you're gaining traction. The difference between your current and desired future state will create the constructive tension you need to stay uncomfortable, hungry, and inspired to change.