Why Complacency Kills and 5 Ways to Get Back on Track

Danger - Self Complacency

The pursuit of happiness and success in life is travelled on a road filled with a certain degree of difficulty. However, the ultimate reward of achievement certainly makes the journey worthwhile. Whether you are chasing down a new job promotion, looking to grow and new business or you’re aiming to become wealthy, a millionaire mindset and the willingness to put in the effort is what you need to succeed.

However, negativity and positivity both seem to go hand in hand in the quest for success. While there will often be times of encouragement and advancement, there are battles we must fight along the way to stay on course. One of our biggest ‘foes’ on the road is self-complacency. Slowly, complacency kills our drive to power on, slows our momentum, and leaves us stagnantly idle as opportunities race us by. But it is like quicksand; we don’t realise we are in trouble until we are firmly stuck.

In this article, we’d like to deal with the steps you need to take to overcome self-complacency. Join us as we identify what self-complacency is, how complacency kills our drive, what the warning signs of self-complacency are, and how we can begin to correct our perspective and get back on track.

What is Self-Complacency?

The Oxford dictionary defines complacency as, “a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievement.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary expounds upon the definition by adding that it is, “self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.”

In summary, self-complacency is a mindset that leaves us content and comfortable with where we are in life, work, and school. As a result, we do not strive to excel any further. We are, therefore in danger of missing out on opportunities to grow.

How Complacency Kills and Where it Comes From

Now we know what our ‘enemy’ is, it’s not difficult to see how complacency kills our power to succeed in the future. We become so overconfident in our successes of yesterday, we fail to see the threats of tomorrow. Often, we believe we are secure because we have come so far yet forget we are living in a world that is ever advancing. We need to understand that when we stop to admire the view, we risk being left behind.

Many big video/DVD hire stores became complacent in a market that was not designed to last forever. They evolved slightly when movie platforms evolved from VHS to DVD, but that’s where it ended. Had this marketplace kept striving for advancement, many of the leading brands in the industry would have become some of the first streaming sites. They should have been the first to capitalise on the new trends!

Instead, they died out completely. You see, they found comfort in doing one thing in one way for so long. As a result, they became self-complacent in their thinking. When the industry shifted, they failed to see the danger and were left behind.

Do You Struggle with Self-Complacency? – 5 Warning Signs and How to Overcome Them

Self-complacency is not easy to identify. Often times we just think we are enjoying a long run of success or that we have reached our end goal already. The confidence we have in our condition clouds our judgment. It is, therefore, good practice for us to examine ourselves regularly to make sure we are not showing signs of complacency.

If you’d like to check off the list and test yourself for the warning signs, ask yourself the following 5 questions and answer them honestly.

1. Am I still giving my best?

Oprah Quote Do Your Best

This is a necessary question to answer. If you are not giving your best, there is always a chance someone else will outperform you and take what could have been yours. The moment you are content putting in the same effort day in and day out, you could be in danger of complacency.

Most markets these days are highly contested. As such, you need to continue to add value to your work to make sure you stay ahead of the game. As such, start every single day off on the right foot and see it as a new challenge.

Winners do not dwell too long on past accomplishments and successes. Instead, they keep looking for the next challenge. Once you find the challenge, make sure to gain ground and put in every effort into being the best at what you are doing.

Oprah Winfrey said it best, “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Her influence and drive for success have made her one of the richest women on the planet; a figure worth listening to.

2. Am I keeping up with developing trends?


When last did you do something to advance your skills or knowledge in your workplace or industry? If you find you are content knowing what you know, or you believe you know all you need to know, then you are in danger of self-complacency.

Elon Musk is one of the most successful men in the world. Not only is he the richest man in history, but his industries are at the forefront of future trends. He has openly acknowledged it is his hunger to learn new things which have kept him innovative and ahead of the game.

As such, constantly look for new avenues to improve your skills. Take a short course, buy a book or two, but never think for a moment you know all you need to know. Constantly educating yourself will ensure new trends never pass you by. Instead, you’ll be adequately equipped to harness new things for your advantage.

It was George Washington Carver who said, “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom.” We are not saying that a degree ensures success, but rather that learning (in all its forms) ensures growth.

3. Am I Still Chasing New and Exciting Prospects?

I'll give it my best shot

Try to rank the level of excitement you have for your job on a monthly basis. Do you get excited about it? No, then you probably haven’t set any goals worthwhile chasing. If you are not feeling challenged in your current position, you are most probably in a state of self-complacency.

Remember, complacency kills your drive and motivation. So, how do you combat it? Make goals and set targets worth driving towards. Then, put your head down and build up some momentum. Also, expand your network, as it will give you far more prospects to choose from. If you think you have reached the heights for the position you are in, you need to change your position.

Just make sure you are always moving. Confucius said, “It does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” It may mean that you must re-strategise and alter your processes every once in a while.

4. Am I Still Taking Risks?

Take the risk or lose the chance

Barry Farber was an American conservative radio talk show host who was touted as the 9th greatest radio talk show host of all time. He said, “There is no reward in life without risk.” Are you still taking calculated risks to advance yourself in life? If the answer is no, you are probably suffering from self-complacency.

All the best entrepreneurs in life take risks to keep at the forefront of their industries. Heck, just starting a company is a risk these days. Simply put, if you have stopped taking chances, you have stopped advancing. Those willing to take calculated risks are likely to take your place in the race.

Just to clarify, we are not advocating recklessness in your decision-making. Calculated risks are intellectual in nature and have a logical basis. Random decision-making has no place in business, only carefully planned leaps. Dare to share your plans and ideas with investors or employers, you never know how productive your views could actually be.

Speaking at the US Marshall School of Business, entrepreneur and business mogul, Elon Musk, said to the students, “I would encourage you to take risks now and to do something bold. You won’t regret it.”

5. Am I Aware of the Dangers Around Me?


Self-complacent people do not see the danger lurking ahead. This is because they are so focused on the present. If you are not regularly assessing the dangers around you or ahead of you, you are being complacent. This is a very risky environment to live/work in.

As an example: When driving in your car, complacency can kill you. If you drive through every intersection without gauging the traffic, you could be hit by a car skipping the red traffic light. While it may not be likely, it sure is possible for surprises like these to come along.

Referring to our previous example, the DVD hire industry sure didn’t see the threat of becoming obsolete until it was upon them. Their complacency ended their business model completely.

When working towards goals, you may actively be checking all of the right boxes yet still be complacent when it comes to remaining alert to danger. Do your best to rid yourself of this ‘foe’ on every level and never let your guard down.


Sean van der Merwe

Sean is a senior writer at PokCas. He is an Entertainment, Gaming & Cryptocurrency News Reporter. He has more than 5 years of full-time writing experience.