Adversity has its uses. It keeps you sharp and on your toes, ready to manage all that life has to throw at you. This is the only way to survive and triumph. Conversely, success blunts your edge. It makes you lax when you should be firm. It makes you complacent when you should be vigilant and there lies the danger.
The Dangers of Success
Anybody can discern the obvious dangers of adversity. It has all the subtlety of a truck running right over you. But if you manage to survive the first truck, the other trucks will find it harder to hit you because you are ready for them.
On the other hand, the dangers of success are harder to notice. By the time, you come face to face with danger here; you will feel as if a few trucks have run over you. This is simply because you were not prepared and could not get out of the way in time. Continued success makes most people complacent. And as the old saying goes, “it never rains but pours.”
1. Change is the Only Constant in Life
Change is the only constant in life. This is good news and bad news. The good news is adversity will not last forever. The bad news is the same goes for success and good times. Unless you are constantly vigilant and planning ahead, it is easy for a change in fortune to catch you off guard after a period of abundance. We cannot take anything for granted in life, most of all success and good fortune.
Despite the bad press that adversity has, it keeps you sharp and on your toes. Once you get used to it, it is easier to manage challenges during such times because you are in a state of constant readiness. Every fibre of your being is looking for ways to survive and thrive.
Success, on the other hand, is a time of deliverance. It is a time of triumph over adversity, where all your efforts have come to fruition. Tensions and complications ease and there is no longer any need to struggle. Too much ease however, can be a bad thing. It can make you complacent and creates an inertia, which can cause problems later. For example, if you have not exercised for weeks, your muscles are bound to be sore after your first session.
The Dangers of Complacency
So what are some of the dangers that come with being complacent? Before we look at the dangers of complacency, let us look at some definitions. What is complacency?
Dictionary.com defines it 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.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”
With these definitions in mind, let us look at some of the challenges of complacency.
When things are going well, there is no need to change anything or act. In fact, it is better to leave things alone. Why fix the wheel if it is not broken? But as time passes, this inactivity will make it harder for you to move out of your comfort zone. All this is well and good when things are well and good. But when unexpected change happens, you will need a great effort to overcome the inertia brought about by complacency. The problem is you might not have the time needed to adjust and adapt.
2. Resistance to Change
Those who are complacent see no need to change or to learn anything new. But in truth, there are always new discoveries and ideas happening around the world each day. Time and tide waits for no one. Innovative technologies and ideas today can quickly become obsolete tomorrow. This is the way of change and life.
As such, there is no room for complacency at any point in our lives as it only leaves us unable to cope. The rest of the world will move on whether you keep up or not. It is therefore vital to keep abreast of relevant and useful changes to manage change.
A great danger of complacency is laxity. Instead of maintaining the levels of readiness and discipline you had during adversity, you allow things to decline over time. Logically, there is no need for such effort since this is a time of ease. But ease and success do not last forever. Becoming too lax is not the answer because it makes it much harder to rise to the challenge when change happens. We must strike a careful balance in life to keep our edge.
4. Errors of Judgement
Another danger has to do with errors of judgement. It is easy for the complacent to underestimate challenges and to overestimate their ability to cope. This error in judgement can cost them dearly in the face of sudden change.
Yet change is rarely sudden. There are usually many signs that precede it. But complacency can easily cloud our judgement and ability to notice these signs. Under such circumstances, even if it should not be the case, change can come as a shock and paralyze those who are complacent. Then, there is a scramble to act and adapt. Now if only they knew better in the first place.
There is nothing good or bad about success and adversity. What truly matters is how you manage them. While the dangers of adversity are more obvious, you should not let your guard down during periods of good fortune and success.
Can you think of any other dangers hidden within success and good fortune? What other dangers of complacency can you think of? Do share your thoughts and comments below!