Competing Against Complacency

I’m coming up to the five-month mark at the “new gig”. The honeymoon is over and my workflow is in full stride. I’m fully acquainted with the intricacies of the group and it’s been vocalized that I’m fulfilling the expectations of the position.

While this should be reassuring, this isn’t for me.

My father not only preached, “Never be comfortable at how well you are doing,” he required this. He forced urgency in every task at hand – from simply taking out the trash when he asked the first time to never letting a mistake go without a question after a game or match.

While some might think this type of parenting puts a bunch of unnecessary pressure on kids, I believe that it’s the foundation of a strong work ethic.

If we don’t understand the importance of having this drive at an early age, do we want to be learning it now?

Or will we ever learn it?

One of the hardest struggles that young competitors learn in competition is the persistence of intensity with the day-in, day-out practices in preparation of “game day”. This resolve is imperative to exceed any natural growth, but also prepares individuals for the real world.

Yet, stepping into the real world can be harder then stepping into a game, due to the notion that we are all one idea away from being great.

“Practice” was only that three-month internship – and we don’t get many “ready-set-go” opportunities. But the inevitable struggle is fighting off the feeling of security, regardless of how assured your position is or the mindset of “same-old-different day”.

I sustain a competitive edge every day through the following:


A colleague of mine recently summed up innovation as not necessarily a huge change, but a series of smaller changes with a greater conclusion. So getting in a routine can be efficient, but it is also the expressway to comfort.

I regularly tweak my procedure and challenge my point of view to seek a simpler outcome.


This was one of my biggest rookie mistakes.

Starting out, I was eager to volunteer for anything – and I plowed through tasks with a purpose. But I was making a crucial mistake by competing for speed, not quality. Now when I complete a task, I don’t run it up the flag poll. I step back, let it simmer, and then return to it with fresh eyes.

I want to ensure this is my best work – not my quickest work.


We live in a world of rules – one where people telling you “No” almost seems like an actual rule.

I strongly dislike the word, and when I use it, it bothers me. So I confront this.

As I approach the crossroads of a “yes-or-no” situation, I try to regularly confront the normal reasoning for saying no, by saying, yes. Taking a risk to accomplish something that I thought I wouldn’t have time to complete – or finding a solution to a problem before simply dismissing it – is very rewarding to me.


I find ways to make everything a competition.

It doesn’t matter how big or small it is – I need to be competing with an end result. It’s my way of trying to stay sharp. I actually just beat my ride time home from work today.

Pretty stoked about that.

I know these four ideas aren’t innovative by any means – or even the golden road to success. What I do know is that I will never be truly content – regardless of the level of accomplishment that I may achieve.

And if we ever meet, then you should know that I will be conspiring to compete against you from our first handshake.

Stay competing my friends.

Originally appeared on Advertising Week Social Club

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