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Complacency kills businesses and relationships

Written by Ian Christelow on Monday, 15 March 2021. Posted in Insight

‘Never take your eyes off the prize’, says ActionCOACH’s Ian Christelow in his March column for Elite Franchise.

Complacency kills businesses and relationships

‘Never take your eyes off the prize’, says ActionCOACH’s Ian Christelow in his March column for Elite Franchise.

Remember the tortoise and the hare? The cocky hare was pretty certain he’d win. The hare assumed that because he was much faster than the tortoise, he wouldn’t have to try too hard. Well, we all know how that ended. And what about the lazy grasshopper who failed to prepare for winter, unlike the sensible and busy ant. Don’t think I really need to add any more on this tale either.

The moral of the story is: Behaving like the grasshopper or the hare in business is perilous. Success is not just about getting to the top, it’s also about staying there. American business guru and multi-millionaire Jack Welch taught me that if you’re not No 1 or No 2 in your market then, ultimately, you’re dead in the water.  

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Who was the 3rd person to walk on the moon? 
  • What’s the name of the world’s 3rd longest river?
  • Who finished 3rd in last season’s Six Nations rugby?
  • What’s the 3rd biggest selling brand of Cola?

Answers on a postcard to…. Actually, don’t bother because – if you’re like most people – you probably don’t know and more importantly you definitely don’t care. I spend every hour, of every working hour, thinking ‘How can I get our business to No 1?’ or ‘How can we pull further ahead of No 2?’ 

This business mindset is critical. It’s a culture which needs to exist in every organisation or business, regardless of size. Right from the get-go at interview, it’s vital to remind candidates that ‘we won’t carry passengers.’ 

Businesses should only hire people who will enhance the day-to-day operation of that company. They need to impress on every candidate that they must work hard to ‘better themself’ or there’s no place on the team. Growth needs to happen in every area of every department.

For example:

  • Sales: If sales stay the same, overheads will overtake sales and put you out of business.
  • Innovation: If your product or service remains the same, your competitors will innovate and make it obsolete.
  • Marketing: If your marketing appears dated, then people will think the same of your product. What would have happened if McDonald’s had stuck loyally with the clown Ronald McDonald?
  • Learning: If you don’t provide world-class training and development opportunities, your brightest and hungriest talent will depart the ‘sinking ship’, possibly in the direction of your leading rivals. But, much worse than this, complacent team members will probably remain within your corridors.

It would have been so easy for the late Steve Jobs to rest on his laurels once the iPod had been invented, manufactured and marketed. Instead, he looked out for what might endanger the iPod’s popularity, saw it coming in the shape of the mobile phone, and then set about creating the most popular mobile phone on the planet, thus enabling Apple to rule the world in this sector.

Then there’s Pele, the world’s greatest footballer of the 1960s and early 1970s. The Brazilian, who scored in two World Cup finals 12 years apart, said: “There is always someone out there getting better than you by training harder than you.” Only recently I personally witnessed boxer Josh Warrington being obliterated by Mexican featherweight Mauricio Lara. It was his first professional defeat in 31 fights.

Describing this unexpected loss, Warrington said: “When I walk into the arena normally, the heat and adrenaline hits you. But I stood on the stage and felt too relaxed. It was like I was about to have a sparring session with a novice. I was even winking at Lara. I've never experienced that mindset before. I look back now and think ‘Why were you in that mindset’? By the time fight day arrived, I wrongly believed the result of the fight was a given.” 

And this unlikely defeat has taught him a valuable lesson, as Warrington explains: “We don't want to be in this position again. My drive to be the best has returned. I've gone from number one in the world to number six.” One fight, one dose of complacency, has changed everything for Warrington and his team. And the same principle applies to business. Always aspire to remain ahead of the opposition and search for that next opportunity to change and grow. Take your eye off the ball and you might end up like Woolworths, Toys R Us and the Arcadia group.

Arcadia’s problems arose from a particularly devastating combination of 21st century factors. Studying the rise and fall of Sir Philip Green, it looks to me as if he failed to embrace and invest heavily enough or early enough in online retail. He also neglected to invest heavily enough in personal growth. And it has nothing to do with age. Lord Sugar is five years older than Sir Philip Green and is moving with the times, by mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs, while also listening to his advisers.

He stays in shape by cycling and embracing social media. I can’t wait to hear his conversation with the founder of the business coaching profession, Brad Sugars, when they talk to each other at BizX 2021. It’s a conversation certain to give every attendee some sweet ingredients for business success. Whether it’s business or personal relationships, the reality is: ‘If you’re not growing, you’re dying’.

As for the definition of ‘Complacency,’ it means: ‘A feeling of being satisfied with yourself or with a situation, so that you do not think any change is necessary’.

This article comes courtesy of ActionCOACH, the only franchise to be rated 5-star for franchisee satisfaction and to achieve a top-10 Elite Franchise ranking every year since the prestigious ratings began.

About the Author

Ian Christelow

Ian Christelow

Ian Christelow has a deep-rooted passion for helping companies succeed. Having watched his father’s business fail as a child, Ian understands the devastating consequences of business failure. When he came across the ActionCOACH brand in 2001, no one really knew what a business coach was, but Ian could see it was the cure for the blight which kills 9 out of 10 UK businesses inside their first decade of trading.

He and his partner, Julie Wagstaff, have spent the last 18 years growing the franchise in the UK to over 200 franchise owners, becoming the most successful out of over 70 ActionCOACH countries. This is a result of the support structure of over 60 UK-based team members put in place for the franchise network; investing £250,000 in an exclusive lead and client generation centre and developing strategic alliances with many other companies to introduce thousands of business owners to the solution.

His ultimate goal is for ActionCOACH to become a household brand and the go-to place to grow your business successfully.

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