Complacency

“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.”

Bruce Lee

Fear is an excellent motivator. Our natural response to fear or discomfort is to run the other way. We seek comforting things. Nostalgia. Hot comfort food. Smells. Familiar places. Routines. A consistent routine is a godsend to hectic times. But comfort isn’t always our friend.

Comfort is often the gateway emotion to complacency.

Complacency is a short path to ruin. The world never stops moving, but you do.

Essentially, complacency is feeling naively satisfied with your life and with yourself, despite all the red flags and warning fires dancing in your periphery. Funny enough, I believe complacency can come from both success and failure.

Success Complacency comes from achieving a goal and-or reaching the top of a mountain and telling yourself that you’ve “made it”. You reach the top (or at least what you think is the top) and you stop. You root.

You build a successful business but stop innovating. You make a hit song and you fold in the towel. You find the love of your dreams, get married, and stop trying.

We retire from creating. We stop improving. We coast. We smug (to use that word incorrectly as a verb). And while we’re goofing off— our skills and ideas rusting away—everyone around us is still in the game—improving, achieving and, more importantly, trying.

And suddenly we find ourselves at the bottom. The mountain moved beneath us while we were sleeping.

Failure Complacency is the opposite of Success Complacency. Not only have you not succeeded, you’re perpetually dissatisfied with how things are. You’ve tried, usually, you’ve tried extremely hard, but nothing has worked out.

Failure complacency is accepting a mediocre life or giving up after failing and resigning yourself to being a miserable sad sack. You fall into patterns of comfort and safety—or at least the little “comfort” and “safety” you have. For example, you hate your job but don’t do anything about it. It sucks, but the pay is decent, so why quit? Or you attach yourself to a certain lifestyle and despite hating yourself, you don’t want to give it up.

Psychologists might have better names for success and failure complacency. (These are just ideas I’ve observed in my own life and through the lives of others.) I want to do more research on this idea.

I do know that both success and failure complacency are difficult to overcome in their own ways. I would guess that the majority of us deal more with failure complacency than success complacency, but I could be biased.

The only way forward is to seek change and momentum.

We must challenge ourselves and learn to become comfortable with discomfort. Not for discomfort’s sake, but so that we are always moving. Even when we are resting and doing nothing, our minds and bodies are in continuous flow. Clouds dance. Nature bends to the wind. The world beneath our feet is rotating and walking through space. Life is motion.

Seeking challenge is our way forward.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1016

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Seeking Challenge

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”

Joseph Campbell

Whenever I’m feeling nervous about something, I know it’s a good sign that I need to be doing it. Singing, for example. It’s something I’ve been learning for the past couple of years. It feels natural singing and playing guitar by myself, or with friends. But I know I’m still in the beginning stages, so I always feel a little discomfort in the pit of my stomach and my heart starts fluttering when I sing for others.

If something is easy, it means we aren’t challenging ourselves enough.

It’s not difficult we want, rather challenge. Hard, not for hard sake. Hard because we want to feel uncomfortable. Well, we don’t want to bu uncomfortable, but that’s where improvement and growth build from.

Discomfort is how we grow. When we step out of our cozy slippers and step into a new and unfamiliar place, we push ourselves to grow.

There are many ways we can challenge ourselves. We can challenge ourselves by doing more. By doing less. By doing something different. By doing something that scares us. By doing something that is unfamiliar. By mimicking others.

We push ourselves to fail. Again, not intentionally, but because dancing on the edge between failure and success is where the magic is.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1015

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Meanie Me

“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.”

Epictetus

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”

Henry David Thoreau

“The enemy is the inner me.”

Nick Miller, New Girl

I think deep down there’s a part of me that wants to fail. (And I imagine I’m not alone in this sentiment.) Of course, I want to succeed. I want to create meaningful work. I want to experience life to the utmost. I want to make enough money to add fuel to my creativity.

But there’s a part of me that doesn’t. Let’s call him Jerry.

Jerry wants things to stay the same. Jerry is lazy and doesn’t care about the future. All he care’s about is immediate pleasures. Jerry wants his gallon of ice cream. Jerry wants me to fail because Jerry (and all the Jerry’s I’ve run across in life) thinks failure is all I’m good for. But Jerry wants what jerry wants, not what I want.

We often push so hard to be who we want to be. We work late hours. We do what others don’t. All for our inner Jerry’s to grab the wheel and crash the car. It’s not Jerry’s fault. Jerry is Jerry. The fault is my own. We let our inner enemy, our resistance, our past failures, and fears drive us, we are taking our hands off the wheel of our dreams and desires.

  • Anger can get you far, but it won’t make you any happier.
  • Fear can motivate, but it usually just diminishes instead.
  • Failure (and the fear of failure) keeps us locked and stuck in place.
  • Envy separates us from what opportunity and good fortune we have within our own circumstances and journey.
  • Worry and apathy keeps us from being alive.
  • Resentment rots.
  • Anxiety is the embodiment of FOMO and convincing ourselves we aren’t good enough.

We are good enough. Maybe we aren’t in an ideal situation we’d like to be, but who really is? We are good enough to use what we have to create something better. And enjoy what we have while also striving for improvement.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #833

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Life Principle #6: Live For Challenge

Imagine yourself backstage.

You’re about to go one and speak to a crowded room of thousands of people.
The crowd is lively, the stage lights are bright, and you’re freaking the E. F-ing G. out.

Good.

That means you’re doing something right.

Public speaking is one of the most feared and revered skills we can have as humans. The ability to capture the minds and imaginations of thousands all at once with words — interpreted sounds — is incredible to me!

But unless you practice and hone your skills, it’s easy to see how being in front of that many people all looking at you at once can create such a fear-inducing effect. When I’ve spoken in front of people, I’ve either killed it or completely (arti)choked. It was all about the mindset I wore and the perspective running through my mind at the moment.

One prevailing theme I’ve observed from reading multiple biographies and from my own experiences is that challenges ultimately lead to greatness.  We become more capable, more confident, and grow faster when we jump into our discomfort zones and learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable.

Life Principle #6: Life for Challenge

Mastery of life begins in our discomfort zones. Do what you fear.

When you feel a ping of fear* about something, that is something you should immediately start doing.

(* fear doesn’t mean stupid. Don’t go frolic with tigers or play hopscotch with the mob.)

Every moment of pain, discomfort, failure, critique, hiccup, rock-bottom fall is a challenge to overcome.

The worst setbacks we face can become opportunities for going further than we ever imagined. 

Setbacks don’t define you, it’s what you do with them that speaks about who you are.

Chronic neck injury, burnout, useless college education, financial meltdown, shallow friendships, fatigue, uncertainty, these are my experiences. These are the stories I have the opportunity to share with others and teach them how to endure and overcome their own challenges.

I think we all know intuitively that we have to do something in order to be something. (I feel dumb even writing it)
If you want to be a blogger, you have to blog.
If you want to be a musician, you have to practice, record and play.
If you want to start an online business, you have to start.

And yet we still let fear hold us back. We let discomfort keep us from our ideal future.
But the strange thing is when you live for challenge, you learn to enjoy the discomfort.

Do you think Jimmy Fallon still get’s nervous every time he goes out on stage during Late Night with Jimmy Fallon? Of course he does! But he loves it.  He loves the fear and uncertainty.

The same goes for everyone who’s ever done anything and stood out in their lives.

And when you do step into your discomfort zone, despite the fear, you become unstoppable. Not because you can’t fail (you will) but because you proved to yourself that you are more capable then you or others thought possible. 

Anyone can crowd surf, but only a few try.

Starting a business is terrifying. What if I fail? What if I lose all of my money?
Becoming a public speaker is terrifying. What if I bomb? What if I embarrass myself?
Becoming an author is terrifying. What if I never finish? What if it’s my work is no good?

But what if it works? What would you’re life look like if you succeed?
And if it is terrible, if you do bomb, what if you kept going until you succeed?

What’s scarier to you: stepping into the fear and challenging your comfort zone, or giving into the fear and living a lifetime wondering if your life would be better if you had?

The largest regrets I’ll have on my deathbed are challenges I didn’t take, and opportunities I missed because I was too scared in the moment to try. 

A moment of discomfort looking like an idiot, falling on my face, being criticized is nothing compared to a lifetime of giving into fear and taking the normal road.

The Renaissance Life is about challenging yourself to become a part of something greater, to be what you know you are capable of.

Live for Challenge.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights (From People Smarter Than ME)

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“I really try to put myself in uncomfortable situations. Complacency is my enemy.” — Trent Reznor

“If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” — Dale Carnegie

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” — Mark Twain

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.” — Steve Jobs

Life on the edge: Are you uncomfortable enough?

Brilliance is born outside your comfort zone.

Doing the same things* you’ve been doing has gotten you where you are, but to take steps towards brilliance you must step further and further into your fear and the unknown.

*you know, those same old things

Life on the edge is where creativity and magic happens.
 

However, it’s the furthest away from being comfortable you can get.

Comfortable is staying at your job even though you hate it.

Comfortable is a nice warm bed that’s hard to get out of.

Comfortable is opting out of networking events because you don’t feel like it, or don’t like them.

Comfortable is not asking, not writing your book, not starting your business, not failing, not traveling, not asking that person out on a date, not leaving your house, not joining that race, and not doing X because of fear of Y.

If we’re not careful, comfortable is where we go to die.

We must learn to be comfortable with the uncomfortable if we ever want to make true impact and stride.

Learn to be comfortable in what makes you uncomfortable +

Uncomfortable, as in anything you know that’s probably good for you, but you find terrifying to do.

We all have similar, yet unique things that we find uncomfortable. What’s uncomfortable for me, might be easy for you, and vice versa. But the most universally uncomfortable things is anything to do with us standing out.

Isn’t it ironic that we want to stand out, but fear standing out.

 

Your task is to find what makes you uncomfortable and linger on them. Inhabit them. Learn to be comfortably* uncomfortable.

*to make up a word

What’s uncomfortable to us doesn’t usually go away, but it does lose it’s effect on us when we learn to sit with it. For example, you may always be scared of public speaking, but if you do it anyway, you’ll have control over your fear, vs it having control over you.

Being Comfortably Uncomfortable is about being in control of your fear instead it being in control of you.

Ask Yourself:

Q: What makes me uncomfortable?

Q: What am I not doing simple because I am sacred to do it and scared to stand out?

 

#KeepPursuing — Josh Waggoner | Renaissance Man | Updated: Jan 21st, 2017

‘Brevity is the soul of wit.’  Email me (josh@renaissancemanlife.com) your thoughts on this post. Can you reduce the essential idea further?

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related wisdom 

The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.

— Benedict Cumberbatch

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.

— Brian Tracy