Leadership How to Lead

Complacency and Selfishness

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A month or so ago, a shop owner I know told me about the great level of success his business had finally achieved. After years of plugging away, building his operation, cultivating his team and driving growth in revenue and profit, he thought he’d reached the peak.

He was looking ahead to retirement—maybe even an early retirement. After all, he had money in the bank. He hit a level of success few do. He was happy and satisfied with it, and from the conversation, I could tell he expected me to be, as well.

I wasn’t.

To be honest, I was frustrated with him.

To start: His business wasn’t maxed out; far from. And he wasn’t maxed out in his potential in leading it; again, far from it. He hadn’t reached the peak. Instead, he was settling for a spot halfway up a mountain and calling it “good enough.”

I hear similar stories over and over from people. And on the one hand, I am very happy about the success people have had, and the point they’ve reached in their journey. But let’s focus instead on that last word: journey. That’s what this all is—everything we do—a journey.

So, when I hear people tell me they’re done, they’re settling, they’re packing it in and going to retire early (or simply coast until retirement) and live off the stacks they built up, they’re focused on an end destination and not the journey.

To be completely honest, I find it selfish. And I tell them that; someone has to, because the bottom line is that people have God-given talents that have allowed them to achieve their success and grow their businesses. It’s their duty to continue to use those talents for the better until they’ve truly maxed out their potential. When people are unwilling to try to max out their talents, it hurts other people.

I’ll explain.

Every one of us, through our own specific talents, has value to provide the world—or on a more micro level, those around us. In building our businesses and pushing toward goals, we try to deliver that value in all we do. And people who have reached a level of success have seen how that comes back to them: You give value to the world, and the world rewards you back. We get compensated for it, and that allows us to grow our operations, give raises, offer promotions, expand to new opportunities. Meanwhile, it gives us the means to truly make a difference on another level: We can become more involved in charity work, we can give back to our communities, we can help struggling families, schools, chuches, etc. All of that’s possible by trying to use our abilities as leaders within our businesses.

When we check out of that process, though, and check out of pushing and driving for more in life, we shut off that value we try to provide to people. We sit back and stop growing. We limit the potential for those around us to grow. We limit the potential for us to make a difference in our communities. We limit our own opportunity to maximize the impact we can have.

A selfish attitude comes in when we are more focused on protecting me than protecting those around us. And let’s get this misconception out of the way: Striving for success is not selfish; building profit is not selfish. Do you know what is, though? An attitude that limits our potential and drives us toward failure, when we have the talents, abilities and opportunities to achieve so much more if we only believed in ourselves and believed in the journey.

So, whether you’re in the position of my friend I mention at the beginning of this article or you’re at a different place in your journey, my message is twofold.

First, you need to truly believe that you have value to provide to the world. You can’t doubt that. You need to look at your God-given abilities and talents and understand that you have those for a reason. You built your business. You cultivated your team. You helped so-and-so through that rough patch. You mentored that young tech onto a better path. You did that free brake job for that single mother who couldn’t afford to get to work without her vehicle. You have made a difference. You have to believe that, and you have to understand that this is why you want to continue to grow your business, so that you can continue to help and lift up more people around you.

And that brings us to the second part: Once you understand the value you provide and the impact it truly has, you can’t stop. You have to share that value with the world. And I don’t mean you have to be relentless and be behind a counter until the day you die, but you can’t settle, you can’t pack it in, you can’t sit back and coast. If you do, you’re wasting all that you’ve built and all that you’ve done. Don’t stop.

My promise is that I will continue striving to add value to the world until the day I die. What about you?


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