150. Don’t try this at home … or anywhere else.

Over the course of my career I have frequently battled an inexhaustible adversary who has stalked me mercilessly and taunted me at every available opportunity.

My antagonist has been merciless in all attempts to seize control of my life, and each time I have convinced myself that I have finally defeated this demon, it reappears rested, refreshed and even more determined.

The name of this enemy is complacency and it has promoted more misery and exasperation than almost any other known cause.

We first met back when I was a teenager vying for a place on the local soccer team. I was competing for a position on the team against a rival 12-year-old and I was working hard to secure my appointment.

I never missed a practice. I pushed myself harder than anyone else and spent every available waking moment honing my skills.

And it paid off.

When the names of the team members were announced, mine was prominent on the list and his was absent.

I was thrilled. I had won. Victory was mine.

And then I met complacency for the first time.

And I started skipping practices.

And when I did attend, I applied minimum effort after all, I was already on the team, wasn’t I?

I no longer had to impress the coaches.

I took things easy. Enjoyed every moment of smugness and contentment.

And then one day the coach told me that I was off the team because my rival had never stopped working out and practising and his commitment remained unwavering while mine appeared fleeting.

You would think I’d learned my lesson and that I would separate myself from complacency and file for divorce.

I didn’t.

And ever since that time all those many years ago, complacency has followed me around like an unpleasant neighbour who just won’t move to another area, patiently watching and waiting for an opportunity to ply its trade.

And foolishly. I have consistently and regularly provided that unity.

On more occasions than I can remember I have busied myself with my career and built a string of highly successful results only to, at some point, begin to feel that quiet pleasure of comfort and security and sat back, rested on my laurels and in so doing provided complacency with a platform to do its job.

At some point, I would realize, with a sense of panic, that desperation was causing me to go back and work extra hard and I vowed each time to never again allow my new momentum to slide.

And each time I experienced a certain level of success, that sense of self-satisfaction and smugness with my situation would provide the opening for complacency to return and for me to enjoy my success, without putting any further effort into it, until theday that desperation returned and back to work I went.

For the last few years I have successfully managed to apply The Habit of Non-Complacency thereby successfully avoiding the consequences that complacency always brings into our lives.

The trap of complacency is an easy one to fall into; it is only through fierce commitment to The Habit of Non-Complacency that I’ve been able to avoid falling victim.

Complacency is a dirty enemy as it plays only by its own rules and I urge you to be vigilant in all areas of your life’s lest complacency find a way in, and undo in a short time what may have been created over a long time.

The Habit of Non-Complacency is our first line of defence;  we must protect it at all costs and honour it at all times.

Not doing so will never bring about a happy ending.

And we don’t need any more of those, do we?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S.

Finally, after months in the works, my company’s new website is up. Please take a moment and visit www.strategicpathways.net . Browse through this site and then click on the “Contact Us” tab or tellmemore@strategicpathways.net  and let me know what you think.

Your opinion truly means a lot to me.

Thank you.

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149. Complacency is never a good thing.

complacency

noun, plural complacencies.

  1. 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.

This is a word we are all too familiar with. It is a word often used to describe attitudes and explain behaviours and yet it is a word the very meaning of which has caused untold numbers of lives to be lost, countless careers to be destroyed and innumerable relationships to be irreparably damaged.

Those are just a few examples of the devastation that can be traced back to one 4 syllable word.

And each and every one of us have been guilty of bringing complacency into an area of our life, usually with no ill intention and almost always with unpleasant unintended consequences.

Those of us who drive cars have all been guilty of incorporating this word into our driving practices and it is the sheer act of good fortune that has prevented most of us from a rueing the consequences.

Complacency takes place when we don’t bother to put on our seatbelts because we are only driving a few blocks, when we go to bed while leaving lit candles to burn themselves out and when we head out to enjoy some winter hiking and toss our survival kit bag into the trunk without taking a moment to examine the contents.

Complacency is often the result of continued, repeated good fortune as witnessed by the hundreds of times we have placed ourselves unnecessarily at risk driven by a certainty that nothing untoward will happen because it has never happened before.

I believe this is the word that led to the demise of a political dynasty that had ruled our province for more than 40 years.

Having won 12 consecutive elections with majority governments the PCs went into an election this past spring with, I am sure, a quiet conviction that they would once again triumph over their opponents while, as before, paying no attention to the voices of their critics.

Taking things for granted is, in my opinion, the very form of complacency that propelled them to a humiliating defeat because of their unshakable conviction that the results would be the same as before because, well… just because they always had been.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting the results to be different, then surely the definition of complacency is doing the same things over and over again because of a conviction that the results will be the same.

The Habit of Non-Complacency is also the habit of not taking people, things and events for granted.

It is a clear understanding that just because you have driven without a seatbelt 1 million times without being injured in an accident does not mean that not wearing a seatbelt this time is any assurance that the injury caused by being ejected from a vehicle will prevent a lifetime of regret.

The Habit of Non-Complacency, when adopted with serious commitment, will allow us to escape from the self-delusion that comes from a false belief that the past does equal the future and will prevent us from harm, sadness or disappointment when we learn that it doesn’t.

Taking the future for granted is a risk not with taking and by making The Habit of Non-Complacency a key component of who you are, you will be practising risk management at the highest possible level.

And that is nothing to be complacent about.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

P.S.

Finally, after months in the works, my company’s new website is up. Please take a moment and visit www.strategicpathways.net . Browse through this site and then click on the “Contact Us” tab or tellmemore@strategicpathways.net  and let me know what you think. Your opinion truly means a lot to me.

Thank you

 

148. Hear your inside voice.

For the past two weeks we’ve been discussing The Habit of Hearing as an adjunct to listening.

We have talked about the need to become better at hearing what is being said rather than focusing on becoming good listeners because listening is easy while hearing takes practice, focus and concentration.

There is another dimension The Habit of Hearing that profoundly affects each and every one of us. It is the need to not just listen to, but truly hear and pay attention to the never ending dialogue that takes place in that tiny space between our own ears.

While few will publicly admit to this, we all spend a lot of time talking to ourselves. We generally do this in the form of our thoughts and our feelings and for most of us these two provide a running commentary of our waking moments.

We are constantly in the throes of telling ourselves a story and it is the stories we tell ourselves that guide the quality and direction of our lives. For many of us the stories contain words, thoughts and feelings of criticism, denigration, ridicule and insult.

In discussing The Habit of Hearing our focus has been on truly paying attention to what is being said to us from outside of our own bodies and we need to apply equal attention – and really truly hear – to what we are saying to ourselves about ourselves.

The Habit of Hearing when focused internally provides us with the unique opportunity to put a stop to the damaging stories and replace them with uplifting ones.

It is said we become the stories we tell ourselves because we both listen to, and hear, the stories without challenge and The Habit of Hearing provides us with a unique opportunity to change the stories for it is only by first hearing them – truly hearing them and being aware of the damage they are causing us – that we can, and will, begin telling ourselves new stories and acting on what we are hearing.

It is one thing to believe in our own goodness, our own worth worthiness and how deserving we are of all we wish for ourselves, and it is absolutely another to hear those words repeatedly in our own heads.

Until we choose to change our stories and then actively hear those very stories, we will not enjoy the enormous benefits that The Habit of Hearing makes available to us all.

This requires work and a commitment to stick with the work until it produces the results we want.

An old saying reminds us that anything worth doing is worth doing well and before we can determine that acquiring The Habit of Hearing for own internal benefit is worthwhile we must first convince ourselves that we are worth the effort required.

Our internal dialogue never leaves us and The Habit of Hearing is the best tool in our arsenal to warn us of the need to focus on that dialogue and direct it to the life we have always wanted.

If the voice in your head is not agreeing with what you are reading in this blog then listen to that voice, hear that voice, and tell that voice that there is great value to you in doing what we just discussed.

And hear yourself saying that.

And then say it again and again and again.

And keep saying it until you can really hear it.

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.

147. It’s expensive to not hear.

Why is it that The Habit of Hearing is so elusive for many?

I recently watched an interview with the CEO of a multibillion dollar international fulfilment house.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a fulfilment house is a company that warehouses and then ships goods for many companies. In other words, they will fill the orders we submit through the Internet, by telephone or through other means.

Fulfilment centres are usually gigantic warehouses filled with goods from many companies and they employ highly sophisticated technology to track and move goods through the warehouse for distribution and delivery to your front door.

They move tens of thousands of individual items every single day and the vast majority are delivered without incident to the correct address.

That is not always the case and many items – a tiny percentage of those shipped – are returned to the fulfilment centres.

The CEO was commenting on the primary causes of items being returned.

As can be expected, the main reason for products being returned is quite simply customer dissatisfaction with the product received and his comment was that, as a fulfilment centre they bore no responsibility for these items being returned.

There was however the second biggest reason for items being returned and this was one of great concern to the CEO.

As I listened to him discuss this second reason it brought to mind not only the importance of The Habit of Hearing but also the enormous costs incurred when we fail to adopt that habit for our own.

The second biggest reason which translated into thousands upon thousands of items being returned requiring the fulfilment centre, at its cost, to restock these items and ship others, was quite simply the result of the operator on the order desk choosing not to hear what the customer was saying to them.

We are all familiar with that automated voice telling us, “This call may be recorded for quality and training purposes,” and he told us that their own internal investigation – listening to the recordings of what customers actually said and comparing them to information the operators placed into the order system – revealed that The Habit of Hearing was an unfamiliar one to many of his staff members.

An even greater cost was incurred by his company whenever an operator entered an incorrect address into the system for rarely were those incorrectly delivered products returned to the fulfilment centre by the person to whose residence or office they had been delivered.

According to him more than 50% of people who receive incorrectly labelled products simply keep them for themselves which means that not only is his company required to cover the cost of shipping a second product to the correct address, they also have to pay for acquiring the product.

To combat this challenge, he hired a consulting firm to develop “Hearing Training” for his staff and those responsible for taking orders over the phone are now required to attend these sessions twice a year.

Supervisors have been trained to deliver impromptu “hearing tests” to their staff members in order to measure their skill levels and make sure they are hearing, not just listening.

The real shocker was when he said that the cost of listening to, but not hearing, what the customer was saying was more than $3 million per year.

Three million dollars is a staggering sum of money to throw away for no other reason than because we are far better at listening then we are at hearing.

So please hear me when I tell you that The Habit of Hearing may well cost you more than you will ever know if you choose to pretend you already have it mastered.

Do you hear what I’m saying?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.