How Success Makes You Complacent

A mentor-friend of mine recently recommended John Kotter's latest book, A Sense of Urgency. If you work in a large organization with lots of bureaucracy, this book will help. Small business employees don't have the option of masking their complacency -- the workplace is too transparent. At a start-up, your work is scrutinized even more, as founders and investors burn through their own money.

Kotter doesn't clearly define what true urgency is. Instead, he offers case studies that show different characteristics and embodiments of "true" urgency.

Brad Feld rehashed an email he received, describing urgency as "relentlessness, steadiness and the purposeful pursuit of a goal while 'continuously purging irrelevant activities to provide time for the important and to prevent burn-out.'"

My biggest takeaway from the book was a diagram on how past success creates an inward focus; which in turn, makes you complacent, and thus kills a sense of urgency. Simply brilliant. Click the picture for a larger view.