March 9, 2007
Any time one is the best for an extended period of time without being challenged, there is a real danger of complacency. The person or persons in question have the feeling "good enough" because it's often been good enough for them to stay on top. That’s one reason that it can be very difficult to get top athletes to train and practice. That’s also how incredibly intelligent individuals breeze through classes and then suddenly fail one or more. This sense of boredom with not being challenged breeds complacency, allowing the competition to catch up.
However, though complacency is bad, the real danger is its evil brother: entitlement. Entitlement is, basically, expecting to get something because of who or what you are instead of what you’ve done. Entitlement is related to complacency, but it is much, much worse. Complacency can be remedied with a simple shock to reality, after which the methods that got you to the top are used to go there again. Fixing complacency is simply a matter of getting back into a habit that existed before. Entitlement, on the other hand, requires a paradigm shift in how the world is perceived. By definition, entitlement results from a total lack of preparation. There are no good habits to revert back to. There are no good habits at all.
When one becomes complacent and is jolted back to reality, it is very easy for him or her to figure out why. They were a leader once, so they know how to get there. It is easy to admit because their training and experience has provided the tools to regain the spot at the top with a seemingly simple method: work hard again. That same jolt back to reality to one that feels entitled to something only breeds confusion and bitterness. There is confusion because that person expects to be at the top, but without the necessary work to get there. They know nothing other than their entitlement. A byproduct of this is bitterness. The entitled feels as if something has been stolen from them, as if they’ve just had their birthright taken away. The experience and skills that have been developed in the initial ascent to the top are non-existent. Thus, the fall is so much farther and faster.
According to the Scorpions, “Passion rules the game.” The person that wants something the most and works the hardest will get it eventually. Entitlement does not breed passion, but laziness. No one that doesn’t have at least some passion or some drive to succeed will ever win in the long haul. In today’s world, competition is fiercer than ever, and entitlement as a mindset will not and can not ever succeed.
The best way to avoid this sense of complacency and, especially, entitlement? Always remember that nothing is free. Nothing will be given to you without you working for it. The days of the free lunch are over, if they ever even existed. Live with that in mind, and you won’t end up at the bottom, staring up at the top and wondering how you fell.