So what are you doing to address the natural aging processes that are taking place in your business and in yourself?
Frequently business owners will approach me about helping them get their business back on track. In many cases the business isn’t really in trouble. Sometimes it’s just experiencing the effects of a maturing business that Rosebeth Moss Kanter writes about in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End. These can include loss of focus, waning passion and/or the complacency that an extended winning streak can bring.
You see, the real enemy of success in business isn’t failure. In my opinion complacency is much more dangerous than complete and total failure! At least when you fail in business, you can recognize it and either fix it or decide to settle things up and move on to something new. Most business failures arrive with great fanfare and some are a little more subtle. But at the very least you always know when abject failure arrives!
Complacency is different and much more dangerous. It doesn’t announce itself when it comes to visit. Complacency just drifts in through the cracks around the windows and doors of our lives. It’s like a dull, gray fog that lulls us into a stupor of mediocrity. This insidious stupor sadly is not painful enough to force us to change things. But it is subtly powerful enough to cause us to question—and too often compromise—all the lofty goals we set out to achieve with our businesses.
So when the complacency of a maturing business or an extended winning streak sets in the question you must ask is, “Do I still have the fire in my belly to get my business back on track?”
You need to determine whether you still have enough passion to rekindle the fire in yourself and the people in your organization. Fair warning: This can be a tough thing to do! As you and your company matures your drive to jump back into the fight can diminish! And yes, one of those limits is our willingness (or ability) to work around the clock for weeks on end like we did when we were in our twenties!
So now the question becomes, “How badly do I want to get things back on track?” Listen carefully here: There is no such thing as growth without sacrifice! So exactly what are you willing to sacrifice to get things back on track? For example…
Are you willing to let go of how you used to do things but that simply don’t work anymore? (Remember, things “not working” are why you are in this mess in the first place!) Are you willing to sacrifice your personal emotional comfort and explore a new vision of your business? Will you at least consider more efficient ways to get things done?
As we get older, it’s natural for us to become more cautious, more careful and more uncertain about the future. So there’s a natural tendency for us to flinch when it comes to changing the way we’ve always done things in our companies. But if we’re serious about maintaining our run of success—or getting back on it if we’ve fallen off—we have to be prepared to wrestle our complacency to the mat, stand over it with our boot on its neck and vow never to let it rear its ugly head again.
Meditate on your company (and you personally) and what signs you see of that ugly old gremlin “complacency”. Then let’s chat again next week.