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“…In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Virginia Threat Assessment Guidelines (VSTAG) was established and has been widely disseminated across schools in the United States and Canada. It is an evidence-based model for use in responding to threats of violence. The guidelines classify threats into two distinct categories, transient and substantive. Transient threats are classified as non-serious while substantive threats are seen as severe enough to cause harm. According to VSTAG, now known as CSTAG, threat assessment is a hands-on approach to “identify, assess, and manage threats with the goal of resolving them before they escalate…”
In the same manner, there are looming threats to our productivity and growth in life if we don’t address them. Today’s post will identify, assess, and help overcome the substantive threats of complacency and neglect.
The danger of complacency
“‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix’ is the slogan of the complacent…it’s an excuse for inaction…” said former National Security Advisor and retired four-star general Colin Powell.
In the winemaking process, dregs are sediments that settle at the bottom of the wine barrel as it sits undisturbed. This is the perfect description of complacency and how it sets in. It festers slowly as we begin to settle for the status quo (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) or settle for less than what we have been designed or purposed for. It often goes hand in hand with procrastination. It can go unnoticed because it begins to work in the recesses of our soul and then spreads.
Complacency is an easy but deadly dreg. It borders on laziness seeking maximum payoff where little to no effort has been invested. It sets in when we choose convenience and comfort over our commitments when they become challenging. A.W. Tozer called it a “deadly foe.” How true is that! It’s stagnation disguised as contentment. Complacency’s aim is to stunt the process of growth in the person who doesn’t see it for what it is. It kills the enthusiasm for sustained personal growth. The death of dreams, goals, and good habits can more often than not be attributed to complacency. Hall of Fame basketball coach Pat Riley assessed complacency as “the last hurdle standing between any team and its potential greatness.”
If it is that serious how do we overcome it before it escalates? Maybe the CSTAG can help. A key feature of the guidelines is a decision making tree to assess threats and deal with them effectively. Here are four questions I consistently use to fend off complacency:
- What is my attitude towards life at the age and stage where I am?
- What level of effort am I giving daily towards the things that matter?
- What avoidance activities am I engaging in at the expense of what’s challenging but rewarding?
- What is one improvement I can make now even though everything seems to be going fine?
Benjamin E. Mays gave this startling assessment of a complacent life:
The tragedy of life is not found in failure but complacency. Not in you doing too much, but doing too little. Not in you living above your means, but below your capacity. It’s not failure but aiming too low, that is life’s greatest tragedy.
If complacency is allowed to settle like dregs in a barrel of wine, neglect is the outcome.
The danger of neglect
The threat of neglect looms when we abandon or uproot what could be productive because it did not produce when we expected it to. We did not discern that we were in a process and it takes time. We ignore the wisdom of Elizabeth Elliott, “Don’t uproot in doubt what you planted in faith.”
The CSTAG insists on attention, early detection, and vigilance. Likewise, in the process of doing anything worthwhile, you can overcome neglect by staying vigilant, paying attention to details, and maintaining perseverance even when it seems there is no immediate reward.
Decay is the evidence that neglect has gone unnoticed or allowed to be in control.
The worst neglect that can happen is the neglect of the soul. We can exercise our bodies but if we never pay attention to the state of our souls, we will cease to live and simply exist. An empty life is the result. I believe God is the starting point of a healthy soul. From Him, we receive peace, love, and joy, the ingredients to a healthy soul. And the health of your soul culminates in a fulfilled life. The price of neglect and complacency is simply too high for anyone to bear. It is more profitable to pay the price of perseverance instead. In addition to our souls, here are a few things that are often neglected and have a negative impact on our lives:
- Our values
- The truth
- Our relationships
- Our personal growth or development
Like a precious diamond protect your soul and the things above from neglect.
Final thought: Complacency and neglect not only derail our process of growth, they also dull the mind and quench our soul of passion. They are imminent threats to our productivity. But they don’t have the last word. They can be defeated. Always be on the lookout: identify, assess, and overcome these threats before they escalate and stagnate your life. No matter the difficulty, stick to the process and by all means, keep on keeping on!