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Complacency: The Greatest Enemy of Success


There are countless obstacles standing in the way of your club’s success — thin budgets, staffing problems, lack of participation and many more. But none of these are your club’s biggest hurdle. As it turns out, the greatest enemy of success for any organization is complacency.

In chapter nine of “Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, complacency is identified as the enemy of growth. And according to Collins and Porras, many organizations fall into the trap of feeling comfortable in their various levels of success.

“Comfort is not the objective in a visionary company,” said Collins and Porras. “Indeed, visionary companies install powerful mechanisms to create discomfort — to obliterate complacency — and thereby stimulate change and improvement before the external world demands it.”

In other words, your health club should avoid complacency by placing itself in a daily state of improvement. “Like great artists or inventors, visionary companies thrive on discomfort,” said Collins and Porras. “They understand that contentment leads to complacency, which inevitably leads to decline.”

This isn’t to say you should create an uncomfortable or unsafe work environment for your staff — rather, reinforce the importance of never settling for “good” in daily operations and when setting goals. Striving for constant improvement can be uncomfortable.

“The point here is not that a successful company should necessarily create internal competition in order to keep itself vibrant,” they said. “The point is that it should have some sort of discomfort mechanisms in place to combat the disease of complacency — a disease that inevitably begins to infect all successful organizations.”

And by fighting complacency, you’ll improve all aspects of your club. “Superb execution and performance naturally come to the visionary companies not so much as an end goal, but as the residual result of a never-ending cycle of self-stimulated improvement and investment for the future,” said Collins and Porras. “There is no ultimate finish line in a highly visionary company.”

To be as successful as you can be, you can’t settle for the success you have now. Health and wellness as an industry is always evolving, and the most successful clubs will be the ones ahead of that curve. And getting to that point requires constant improvement, born of self-induced discomfort.

“There are no shortcuts,” said Collins and Porras. “There are no magic potions. There are no work-arounds. To build a visionary company, you’ve got to be ready for the long, hard pull. Success is never final.”

Bobby Dyer

Bobby is the assistant editor of Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached at bobby@peakemedia.com.

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