Achievement vs. Contentment

I was asked recently to define when I felt like I achieved my goals in business.  I thought about the question for a moment and responded that I didn’t want to confuse achievement and contentment.  I went on to say that I don’t believe I will ever achieve my goals in business or in life.

The Staircase

The analogy I used was to look at goals like a staircase.  You can have achievements along the way in pursuit of a goal, like steps on a staircase, but the goal is juts a landing and not the top.  With each step you have moved closer to achieving a goals.  When you reach the landing you should pivot and build on that. 

All of these achievements should be celebrated along the way, but once you reach the defined goal you should be turning and going on another staircase.  Building on the last achievement toward a pursuit of a new goal.

Disposing of Contentment

I don’t believe you should ever reach the top of your staircase and become content.  Contentment is a dangerous mentality that destroys drive.  It seeps into your psyche allowing you to rationalize lack of movement, lack of effort, or lack of drive.

I love my wife and I have zero desire to ever leave her.  But that doesn’t mean I should become content with our relationship to the point where I don’t work at it.  It would be easy for me to be content, take it for granted, and never call a florist.  Lack of effort/movement only means we will start to pull apart.  Who wants to be married but blah.  Sounds terrible.  We have seen too many of those relationships, haven’t we?

In business you may achieve your growth projection, out earn what you thought you would make for income, or land a new client.  But if you become content and don’t work on achieving more you will stop growing, earn less money over time, and lose the client.  Someone else with ambition will push you aside in the marketplace.  It doesn’t happen right away.  But never moving cause the world to move away from you.

Blackberry was the best smartphone on the market, until they became content and then got pushed aside.

Myspace was all of the rage, until some company with more ambition came along.

Toys “R” Us was the best toy store, until it wasn’t there anymore.  They became content, quit innovating, and lost out ultimately.

Do you think Blackberry thought they would be irrelevant?  Do you think Myspace thought it would end so quick?  Or the internet would tear down a toy store?

Start Moving

Everyone needs to take a deep look at their business on a regular and ongoing basis.  It is important to become a CEO, even if you are a one person organization or head of a department.  A CEO is required to look at market trends and see where the business needs to go then devise a plan to get there.  

And remember, stagnation is contentment’s BFF.  If you are at a growth rate of less than 5% you are stagnant because inflation and attrition is outpacing your business.

Movement creates activity.  Spend more time listening to your clients.  Spend more time talking to experts.  Spend more time reading industry books.  I am constantly amazed at people who work in businesses that never solicit client feedback, talk to experts (because they think they are experts in their own right), and never pick up a book.  This is a tremendous opportunity for you.  Do what most people don’t do.  This will separate you from your competitors.