Success: Can It Make You Lazy?

It is easy to notice people who once achieved great success in their fields, only to see them getting stuck or fading in a cloud of failure. There are several examples relating to the music, culture, sports and business world. Thanks to the media and the internet, these are more public than ever before. The reasons for such phenomenon are countless, but one of them can be success. Yes, success!

But is not success the purpose of every endeavor? It is not success itself that drives us; rather it is the search for it which motivates us. We, as human beings, prefer the journey over the destination. We simply do not recognize this glaring truth for what it is.

This is why some people seem stuck in the same job or the same position or why a business just doesn’t grow. Some say this is because they have fallen into a comfort zone and enjoy it (even if it is uncomfortable). This fact can be valid in some cases but also can disguise the truth: Lack of motivation.

The Driver Within

There are plenty of studies about motivation, maybe one of the most well-known is called Maslow’s Pyramid.

Maslows-hierarchy-of-needs

According to Maslow, the subject of motivation changes as we accomplish goals for each stage and target the next one to strive for. This theory of motivation was incomplete and during the last century, it was broadly discussed, but it was merely a good starting point. Something interesting is Maslow´s subjects of study: Successful people, instead of the opposite! As psychological and medical sciences grow and evolve, we no longer do what we used to do: Study the sickness and only later build theories for the sane (valid of course, but not a panacea).

This lineal point of view shows us how success can make us lazy: If we are looking for safety in a destination (physical, financial, professional, etc.) we are apt to succumb to complacency. Without a longer view of the journey itself, then we´ll get stuck in the same position for years. We will lose interest in the destination!

Just like the water of the river pond becomes tainted and changes colors, or as fresh produce decomposes, it happens to business professionals. This makes us the most vulnerable to downsizing, which is essentially everyone’s fear right? Why? Because we haven´t explored other aspects of the business and we didn´t have a broad and richer view of the business landscape. Here is a hint: If you feel too comfortable and bored in your actual position, this is because you have reached your goals for that stage of your life and is time to move on, to find another interior drive to go on.

Some say that the touchstone of all growth is pain. Pain is a great motivator for change. But it simply does not have to be this way. Pain always induces a reaction. When we spend our lives reacting, someone else is in control of our life. Proactive people DO NOT react. They respond.

Flow Like a River, But Where to?

You can look other areas of interest in your organization such as:

  • Sales
  • Finance
  • Administration
  • Lateral movements (not necessarily a promotion, but why not?)
  • New products/services
  • Starting your entrepreneurial project (yeah, this not the right moment, but never is until you start)
  • Other interesting, but not related to professional goals (I have a friend who is participating as couple advisor for his local church)

All of these can help you to overcome that stuck feeling of being stagnant and its consequences. Each day we awake is a new challenge that we are faced with. This should not be taken lightly. Each day is a gift and it is our job to make the most of it.

Bottom line, every aspect in our life must be meaningful, otherwise we´ll get use to a comfort zone and get complacent. Every known aspect of our actions eventually becomes very safe, but with no prospect of personal or professional growth. For the reactive types, things will change eventually for reasons out of our control. For the person “on the fence”, change is expected but not embraced, such as technology and market changes, children growing up, etc. We never can get really prepare for that, the only thing on our hands is to learn to seize the change and look for new opportunities on it for us.

However, for the proactive types, these are the folks that look for change. They understand that the only constant in life IS change. These are the folks that invent things, are called innovators and win Nobel Prize. The Darwins and Einsteins  and Edisons of the world certainly were not reactive. Had they been, our world would be a completely different place!

So which are you: Proactive or Reactive? How was this year? Not as you expect it? Is your organization too comfortable? Are you thinking what else is there for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Javier Dominguez – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.