Who knew the coronavirus would be disrupting our lives this much, for this long, and no end in sight. Yet, here we are adapting. We’re keeping our social distance and questioning each time we go out, “is it worth it?”
In this article we discuss ideas on overcoming complacency, in every aspect of our life. Whether you see the coronavirus disruption as shaking you out of your normalcy or forcing you to be bored with nothing to do, let’s dig deeper into our complacency. For me, so far it’s resulted in a new routine.
Complacency Kills Relationships. Here’s How to Prevent It.
Funny story, when I type into Google, “complacency,” the auto fill prediction stated, “a complacent man!”
Now, let me ask you, how do you know if your relationship is complacent? Is it a gut feeling? Or maybe it’s being influenced by others, like your friend’s relationship or (worse yet) from tv reality shows?! Time to checkin with yourself.
In my research of complacency in the workplace, I came across this takeaway that’s applicable to our personal relationships:
Benchmarking against the competition [let’s say other relationships] however, poses problems. For one thing, comparisons with competitors may uncover practices that are unworthy of emulation. For another, while competitive benchmarking may help you meet your competitors’ performance, it is unlikely to reveal practices for beating them. Finally, we have observed that people are more receptive to new ideas that come from outside their own industry. Noncompetitor benchmarking, then, is the method of choice. 
Translate the above and it means, stop comparing your relationship to others! Instead, get inspired on how to jumpstart your relationship from totally different places.
Here are a few of my favorites from this article:
- Get Into An Argument — Just kidding, I hate this idea but research says otherwise.
- Boost Your Energy Levels — “Working out with your partner can get you both up and moving and spending time together in a unique way,” Bennett says.
- Take A Class Together
- Cook Something New
Dig Deeper — Why? I read the Five Love Languages over 10 years ago and it remains one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. Bottom line takeaway, how YOU show love may not be how THEY want to receive it. What you both have to do is learn each other’s way of expressing love, do your best to express it in their “language,” and then be understanding when it doesn’t happen all the time.
I forget who first introduced me to this book, but I’ve been surprised by how many people know about it and the five love languages (physical tough, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts). I’ve taken seminars, had lots of in-depths conversations with lots of people, and it always resonates.
One of my favorite takeaways is the lesson on how not to let the “love tank” get close to empty. In other words, if the love in the relationship could be measured like a tank of gas, you should always be filling it up and keeping it “Full.” The book asserts, based on numerous cases, that once the love tank gets close to empty, it becomes very difficult to get back to full, and in the meantime it’ll mean a lot of arguments and stress.
Too Much Positivity is Bad?!
Most of us are sitting at home and doing our best to stay positive and productive in all this craziness. I’ve been teleworking and have already established a new routine. It includes 2 glasses of water before diving into 2 cups of black gold (coffee!), VEVO music on the background, and at least 100 push-ups throughout the day. So why does it feel stagnant already?!
To prevent falling into complacency too quickly, what we need is a healthy does of curiosity. But how do we ignite our curiosity when things at home are just so darn comfy?
“Not all positive psychologists push cheerfulness at any cost — in a 1990 book Seligman warned that optimism, ‘may sometimes keep us from seeing reality with the necessary clarity.’” — Scientific America 
Bottom line, hiding behind positive thinking could be like holding onto a safety blanket. What you need is the spirit of an explorer — dare I say, “venturing out” to see what’s out there. Curiosity requires a lot of active thought, but the brain is always looking for ways to go on autopilot. Therefore, it’ll require a conscious, repetitive effort to strengthen your appetite for curiosity.
Here’s a few idea to jumpstart the curiosity juices:
- Develop a Plan B — Think of alternate solutions, it’ll force you to consider new things. (Not to be confused with Plan B, the birth control pill!)
- Be question focused — Ok, that’s a bit obvious. But what I mean, for example, is instead of naming your events, “Tagup” or “Hangout,” try using a question as the name. For example, “What’s the goal for this week?” or “How are we going to divide up what needs to be done?”
So what this has done to me is, even though I keep a positive mindset, I question myself and ask, “is there anything else I can be doing to help this situation?” If the answer is yes (which most of the time it is), then I dig to understand why aren’t I doing anything about it.
Disagreements Improve Productivity — Yikes!
It’s one thing to disagree with someone in person, but it’s a totally different thing when it happens over text, email, or whatever virtual medium. While working and communicating virtually, how many disagreements do we want to get into?
Truth is, in this new corona world, we have to adapt and not sacrifice our productivity and positivity. For me, that means toeing a fine line with people. Doubling down on pushing the issue with people but also being extra kind, extra personable, and as much as possible — giving people the benefit of doubt. Emoji’s only go so far!
“Within an acceptable range of competition and tension, science shows, dissent will fire up more of an individual’s brain, stimulating more pathways and engaging more creative centers.” — HBR
In my research, two stories became fascinating to me:
- In this video, Associate Professor Vermeulen of the London Business School explains how newpapers improved sales by finally letting go of an old myth — that newspapers had to be printed on giant sheets of paper, which are more expensive.
- The “bad dream” scenario, where you intentionally mislead your team with a scary scenario to force them to work together and come up with ideas they would normally never have thought of. Wait a sec, that’s Congress and corona right now!
The takeaway? Keep your productivity sharp by challenging norms (do it nicely!) and hypothesizing worst-case scenarios.
For me, that means leaving my webcam on so that team members can see me and read my visual cues. It also means talking about worst-case scenarios at the risk of coming across as a worrier or micro-manager.
- Gain Competitive Advantage — by Questioning Old Habits
- SurveyMonkey’s CEO on Creating a Culture of Curiosity by Zander Lurie
- How America Gave Up on Change by Walter Frick
- Keeping Customers Continuously Infatuated by Gabor George Burt
- Sometimes Distrust Makes Teams More Effective by Walter Frick
- A “Bad Dream” Can Make for Great New Ideas by Simone Bhan Ahuja , Ranjan Banerjee and Neil Bendle
- Fully Charged: How Great Leaders Boost Their Organization’s Energy and Ignite High Performance by Bernd Vogel
- How to Pick a Good Fight by Saj-nicole Joni and Damon Beyer
- Is Your Organization Too Complacent? by Matt Donovan
- How to Measure Yourself Against the Best by Frances Gaither Tucker , Seymour M. Zivan and Robert C. Camp
- How to Create the Perfect Meeting Agenda by Steven G. Rogelberg
- You see, when you say “gratitude” and “positive thinking”, I hear “complacency” and “delusional thinking” by Martin Rezny
- Three Strategies To Break Free From Complacency by Glenn Llopis
- Can Positive Thinking Be Negative? Research suggests limits to looking on the sunny side of life by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Hal Arkowitz
- Watch Out: Positive Thinking Could Be Holding You Back by Miranda Marquit
- 20 Unexpected Activities That Help Couples From Becoming Complacent In Their Relationship by Carolyn Stebe