One of the greatest fears I have in my young adult life is that of becoming complacent. It's a concept that many of us are not too familiar with as it has many forms. It is often confused with conceited, unfairly perceived as discontentment. But it is its own creature entirely and we choose to escape it in different ways.
For those who don't do well with idle time on their hands, we evade complacency by taking on most new tasks that come our way. We throw ourselves fully into them, usually in a leadership role where we can exercise and hone our skills. We like to make decisions quickly and execute clear plans. While we appreciate transparency, too much oversight into our plans and goals is exhausting and discouraging. We prefer to act first and ask permission later. We end up in positions where we are able to do this because people see our restless spirits and know we need room to 'roam'.
For those of us who enjoy having free time that is not cluttered with competition and expectations, we embrace the complacency. But we do so without fully understanding how it manifests itself. While we may be good at our jobs; usually completing our tasks and meeting our deadlines, we don't gain much from going beyond that. We are comfortable in our job as defined by our contracts. We are the stable ones, we provide assurance and experience to our positions; and we are respected for it.
While there is no right or wrong way to take on new challenges or maintaining status quo in life, we can find ourselves in trouble. Complacency breeds new creatures: Burn Out and Rust Out. One stems from a fear and the other from a contentment.
Burn Out tends to be the most familiar. It is usually 'diagnosed' as the overexertion of the body and mind. Some of us experience this frequently. It's those terms we spend on community boards where we are the only ones doing things. We have been President for 4 years and Secretary for 2. If we are honest with ourselves, it usually stems from us not being honest with ourselves. We are so driven that we can get to a place where we believe others are not as capable. This is the part that is not healthy. It is important at this point to except the break, recharge the batteries and come back willing to collaborate.
Rust Out has been happening under the surface for many years without very little knowledge of its arrival. Typically we call it contentment or structure. We appreciate those who can live happily in their roles; who have the free time to spare. But what we don't see that deep down those who get Rusted Out often get so in their soul and spirit. It is missed for many years that they have misunderstood their role. They think it is about one thing and therefore never really reach the full potential because they don't know what the expectation is. Worse still, sometimes they don't fully understand the mission of the organization. Because of this they continually surrender to the day-to-day routine.
I work in an environment where I see Burn Out and Rust Out yearly. It's important to call it what it is, recognize that it could be you too, and offer support to those you supervise or who supervise you. The best thing is to get to a place of contentment.