By: Chaunte McClure
Earlier this year I accepted the challenge to mentor a young lady who is trying to turn her life around. It’s a much greater challenge than I could ever imagine because she is addicted to alcohol and I’m often frustrated and baffled over the grip it has on her life.
To hear her talk about her credentials, academic achievements and previous career success makes me wonder how such a beautiful, smart, young lady could be crippled by such a debilitating disease called alcoholism; one that interferes with her thinking, ability to work, drive, thrive and be self-sufficient in a world that has its own share of challenges. But she says she wants to change. She wants to change, but I don’t think a day has passed since we’ve met that she hasn’t consumed alcohol.
Like her, many of us also have an addiction. Yes, we have an addiction that’s crippling our thoughts, actions, and even our would-be success. But our addiction is not to a narcotic or a depressant. It’s not to nicotine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin, marijuana, crack, or cocaine. It’s another ‘c’ word – Complacency!
We have great ideas, thoughts, and desires for ourselves, our families, and our communities, but they never go beyond the initial stage. It’s comparable to New Year’s resolutions, which in a matter of days go dormant. The bottom line is, we’re complacent. Without even realizing it, we are addicted to complacency and that’s why we are stuck in our comfort zone.
I sat in amazement this past July as I watched Michelle Obama speak at the Democratic National Convention. Her poise, class, delivery, and confidence left me with awestruck admiration. “I want to speak like that one day,” I said while sitting in my living room as I watched the crowd applaud, cheer, and chant following her compelling speech. The one attribute I’ve identified that I’m missing is confidence. With a manuscript before me, I can speak with certainty, but I can be like a fish out of water without it.
I remembered a life lesson from more than 10 years ago when I wouldn’t even entertain the thought of public speaking: You’ll never get over the fear if you never give public speaking a try. (I hated public speaking!) I realized that I will always be what I’ve always been if I always do what I’ve always done.
While preparing for an upcoming speaking engagement, I thought I’d plan to forgo the manuscript. After all, I’ll never learn to speak without one, if I never give it a try. With knots in my stomach, I was having second thoughts while I was en route to the event. When I finally arrived and walked in the room where attendees would soon gather before me, the featured speaker, I almost panicked when I observed there wasn’t a podium anywhere near the mic stand. (God, what are you doing to me?!) I quickly calmed myself down after confirming there wouldn’t be podium. (Gulp!)
It seems my introduction came too soon, but it was now show time. I took my iPad with me and sat it on a nearby table just in case I lost my train of thought. I had words and phrases highlighted and in bold type to guide me through the speech, again, just in case. Yes, it helped to have my iPad close by. It’s a good thing I don’t sweat much. Phew! I survived the speech. I was no Michelle Obama, but I delivered. Is there room for improvement? You better believe it. Will I keep working at it? You bet. This will be a growth process and I understand that I will eventually get there if I don’t allow complacency to win.
Like alcohol, complacency controls our lives and keeps us from being as great as we are capable of being. Complacency stunts our personal, professional and even spiritual growth.
What has a grip on you that’s preventing you from being your best self? Is complacency preventing you from starting a business, writing a book, earning a degree, getting a certification, becoming active in your church or community, joining an organization, changing jobs or careers, or speaking in public? Fill in the blank: Complacency is preventing me from ____________. Now, what are you going to do about it? Reading this might be motivating, but what will YOU do to change?
You’re great! But there is greater inside of you. But you have to see the need for change, the need for greater so that you can embrace change and allow it to take place in your life.
You want to change, but if you keep feeding that which keeps you from changing, you’ll always be the same.