Norton: The tidal wave of complacency is worse than The Great Resignation

There is plenty of discussion happening around what is being called “The Great Resignation.” The impact of people not willing to work has a vast-reaching impact and implications on every aspect of life. We are all experiencing fractured supply chains, an understaffed service industry, and gaps in inventory resulting in shortages around the world, just to name a few.

This disruption and rising inflation are causing severe emotional and financial stress, leading to anxiety for businesses and many of us at home. When will it end? That is a question no one can answer, with some experts believing that it will be around longer than we think — and whether that is a little longer or a lot longer.

What many businesses are experiencing that is worse than “The Great Resignation” is a tidal wave of complacency. When the pandemic began, both employer and employee were trying to figure out the whole remote work situation. In the beginning, there were struggles with working from home, and leaders were anxious because they felt work might not be getting done in the same capacity.

But within just a few short months, employees became extremely comfortable and grateful to be able to work from home, especially those who had difficult commutes. 

The work-life balance began to get better for most of us. We became aware of the fact that we could decide to work when we wanted to work and take a few hours off and then return to our work in the evening. This strategy worked well for some, but it also created an opportunity for complacency for others. We would convince ourselves we would do the work later, and then later became tomorrow, and tomorrow became next week. We lost any sense of urgency that we may have had before. 

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Hunger and desire have been replaced by distractions and atrophy of our business muscles and attitude. Where we once strived for excellence, we have settled into striving for mediocrity. We know that talent without effort breeds mediocrity. We have fantastic people on our teams, and we know they can do more, do better, and once again be capable of striving for excellence. 

There is so much great content around how we can break out of our comfort zone, or as I heard this week, how we can break free from our confinement zone. Comfort zones are breeding grounds for mediocrity, and confinement zones hold us, hostage, as they hamper our enthusiasm and our creativity. Just because we may work from home or have a hybrid work schedule does not mean we should settle for doing the minimally acceptable level of work. We owe our company, customers, coworkers, and ourselves more than that. We owe ourselves and all of them our absolute best effort. 

We become frustrated because we cannot find what we need at the store because of no inventory. We have the right to be upset because it takes our meals longer to come out because the restaurant is short on help. Our impatience grows because we cannot get the car we want for several months. And we believe we have the right to be frustrated, upset, and impatient, being angry about what we cannot get or have. Yet we never stop to think about how our lack of effort and complacency impacts our company, customers, coworkers, and even our ability to grow, advance, and earn a higher income. Complacency is the enemy of achievement. 

“The Great Resignation” is very real. So, we must ask ourselves a hard question: Are we willing to accept or tolerate complacency just to keep the company going? Or do we need to find a way back to leading and motivating those who are on our team to break out of the complacency zone and into the striving-for-excellence zone? 

I would love to hear your thoughts at and when we can get back to what made our economy thrive in the past, that awesome work ethic, it really will be a better than good year. 

Michael Norton is the grateful president of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager, and motivator to businesses of all sizes. 

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