I read The Winner Within: A Life Plan For Team Players recently, which is a very compelling book by legendary coach Pat Riley. The book is as old as the hills, but it’s packed with tons of incredible insights.
One thing in particular stood out to me that I could easily relate to. It’s something that I’ve battled for a long time:
In The Book,
Riley wrote about the 1985–86 Los Angeles Lakers, a team which he coached and boasted a prime level Earvin Magic Johnson, a young star in James Worthy and an aging but still effective Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
That particular season was a challenging one for the Lakers, largely because they were the defending NBA champions, yet played large parts of the season as though they were automatically guaranteed to repeat as champions. Riley called it “complacency” and explained that it happens all the time.
Complacency sets in whenever a team or person achieves something, especially something significant and then rests on their laurels as though the accomplishment was the end of the journey.
Riley saw many signs of that attitude taking over the team and it was practically impossible to stop them from spiraling into failure. The way I took it, whenever we begin patting ourselves on the back, any chance of success going forward is highly unlikely.
As it were, the defending champion Lakers lost before even reaching the NBA finals in 1986, snapping a streak of four consecutive seasons making the championship series.
In My Own Life,
I have noticed that comfort and complacency has repeatedly set me back in major ways.
You can likely relate as well.
As I think back on those setbacks, I now realize that I always treated my minor accomplishments like the end all be all, when in reality I never should have. A major example of that is one from a few years ago.
In early 2017, I put myself on a healthy eating regimen in hopes of finally getting rid of the millions of excess pounds that I’ve been carrying around forever. I had failed many times in the past so I was apprehensive going in.
To My Amazement,
I did better than I had ever done before at maintaining a healthy eating strategy.
I also implemented exercise into it.
Because I had done so well, I began to take liberties with going to restaurants and getting super delicious but heavily processed fast food on days that were not my designated days. I later found it to be more and more of a struggle to stay away from that food and follow my plan.
That’s because I had gotten too complacent with the usual discipline that I had shown previously that I subconsciously felt like I was already cured of my decades long habit of eating whatever whenever.
I never treated it like a sickness or an addiction like drugs or alcohol, which would likely have made a ton of difference for me. It’s almost like I was taunting myself with food that I should never have been near.
I never fully understood when alcoholics or drug addicts say that they are still considered alcoholics or addicts, even if they had been sober for 20 or 30 years.
Now I completely understand that shit.
I was under the guidance of a professional nutritionist who had designed a meal plan for me to follow which was simple.
I had one major request:
I wanted to have cheat meals every week, but she didn’t like the idea of multiple cheat meals. That’s when I asked her if I could have what I called, “Fat Night” on Saturday’s. She reluctantly agreed and I was happy as hell.
The parameters that she set for me were for my last meal on Saturday to be my cheat meal and that the eating window fit a two hour space of time.
I felt like I could make that work, but week after week, I spent the first six days, Sunday through Friday sticking very well to the plan.
On Saturday, the bottom would fall out like a rusty ass muffler!
I believe that I felt very accomplished each week after having followed the disciplined eating for six straight days, walking 30 minutes a day and going to my personal trainer appointment every Friday.
It was easy to become full of myself, especially as moving around became easier, I fit things better and I was able to put seatbelts on effortlessly. All of that made me comfortable and complacent and that’s when I started slacking off little by little.
Needless to say, I never corrected myself in that instance and it was just a matter of time before I was piling the pounds back on. Riley is spot on in his book when he writes about how insidious success can be.
Truthfully, whenever we reach a milestone moment or a major success, the best thing that can be done is to get right back to whatever the mission was to begin with.
I understand how difficult that can be because we as humans tend to pat ourselves on the back early and often and it can sometimes feel nearly impossible to just focus on continued growth.
Far Too Often,
I’ve felt that every accomplishment was the end of the road, but there’s never an end of the road. This even happens to me with jobs and places that I have lived.
Anytime I have worked somewhere, I typically never focused my mind on getting something better. I would always just be comfortable working at that place. A much better strategy would be to get into a job, then work hard to get into a better position, whether it’s earnings wise, job type or both.
With the places that I have lived, I’ve searched for places then I find one. But I don’t do anything to position myself to get in a better place because I get somewhere and just relax in comfort.
By comfort, I mean a position where I don’t have to do anything else, none of the hard work of finding a better place, then enduring the hassle of moving.
I hope that reading my horrible long term habit of complacency inspires you to fix your issue if it’s the same or similar.
We’re better than this mediocre crap!