“No complacency, no fucking slack”- Jocko Willink
Its was often written on the chalk board of many tactical police courses or said in the tragic debrief of an officer killed in the line of duty, “Complaceny Kills”. Although the words are repeated and understood, complacency is alive and well in police work. It doesn’t happen overnight. The road to complacency is the transformation from bright eyed recruit to salty day shifter. Cops become far too comfortable in their environment and begin settling for sub par tactics and thought patterns. While the mind becomes lazy and resentful, the world remains a dangerous place. One day you neglect to check your corner and find yourself in a world of trouble. Complacency on the street can prove deadly; however, complacency in the way you live your life can also prove dangerous.
Now, complacency for most fathers does not look like it does for the average police officer. It is not often in fatherhood that we are cast into a volatile situation after a radio dispatch. The complacency we face in our day to day lives is often harder to pinpoint. It is harder to define. It will not emerge from a dark alley at night, but may creep into your life to cause just as much havoc.
What is Complacency?
Complacency is a stagnant existence. It’s when we stop learning and become fixed in our mindset. It’s procrastination in dealing with the things we find difficult to tackle. It’s finding reasons to not do our work. Complacency is the “been there, done that” attitude of the adult world. Complacency is traveling aimlessly toward our end, with no direction, passion or gratitude. Complacency is at a first our friend and eventually our eternal enemy. So, if complacency is so toxic, why are so many of us stuck in its loop?
The Pursuit for Homeostasis
Human beings have a default setting, homeostasis. Homeostasis is the status our ape brains strive for. It’s an acknowledgement that we have what we need to survive. We have a shelter, food, water, and nothing is trying to kill us. Once we’ve reached homeostasis, why strive for more? Why push the boundaries? Why not live in complacency? Our species has only lived in such luxuries for the last 100 years, if not less. Complacency (or, homeostasis) in 2018 looks like a plush couch, a bowl of nachos and a football game displayed on a large high definition television. That couch often calls our name; however, what at first presents itself as relaxation and rest begins to morph into a storm we cannot control.
Neglect in complacency
Neglect often accompanies the complacent. The little things in life we assume aren’t important or too tough to deal with are neglected. Why fix them, when just ignoring them is so much easier? That nagging knee can wait. The conversation with your wife doesn’t need to happen. That garage can be cleaned later. In our pursuit of comfort we ignore the little elements of life that make all the difference. What eventually happens is the little problem we should have dealt with begin to grow uncontrollably. The “little monster under the rug, becomes a raging dragon”, as Jordan Peterson would say.
Complacency in our health
Since this is a health and fitness site, I think a health related example is necessary. Let’s say you neglect you fitness in your 20’s. Instead of staying fit or achieving your goals, you neglect them because it’s just easier. Neglecting your health today, turns into neglecting your health for a week, than months than years. Before you know it a decade or two has passed. Now, you are a forty something year old man. Your health has spiraled our of control. Your medicine cabinet is filled with prescription bottles. Your joints are in pain. You’re overweight. Complacency in life has just compounded your challenges into a huge issue. But, here’s the kicker, complacency gives you a slew of excuses. Once you’ve grown out of control, the last person blamed is oneself. Instead of realizing our faults and our wrongs, we only double down on our mistakes. Complacency is a motherfucker.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – Albert Eisenstein
complacency in our relationships
Becoming complacent in our health and fitness can lead to various issues; however, complacency does not stop there. Complacency can be found in how we maintain and build relationships with those around us. The complacent father does not trouble himself with knowing who his kids are. He has a hard time pulling his head out from his phone to watch the little league baseball game. He yells aggressively at the televised football game, yet demands silence from his 3 year old son. The words “ask your mother” are often said with a small wave off.
He fails to maintain a solid relationship with his wife. He ignores her concerns or worse shrugs them off as “dumb”. He stops pursuing her and becomes comfortable. The only times we acknowledges his wife is Valentine’s Day or an anniversary. Complacency can erode your relationships. A child demanding attention today can be a teenager acting out in high school tomorrow. The little squabble with your wife today can become a nasty divorce later.
It’s not easy to avoid being complacent in our fitness or relationships, we have all been at some point. It’s important that we acknowledge when we have been complacent, take ownership of our faults, find what it is that needs to be fixed and we fix it. We fix it before complacency leads to bigger issues that we cannot control. We combat complacency by always moving, learning and taking an honest self-assessment of who we are and who we want to be. We combat complacency by finding what it is we are afraid to do and we DO IT.
There was a time I saw my complacency play out directly in front of me. It played itself out in a harsh lessons that I will never forget. Some lessons played out on the beat. Times I missed a vital clue which could have gone south quick; however, many lessons have been learned in my family life, times I become comfortable as a father or a husband. Times I became so comfortable in everyday life I ignored vital clues which could have lead to disaster. Times I became comfortable in my fitness training and neglected injuries which spiraled into bigger issues. We are all predisposed for complacency, its in our nature; but, it’s something we need to be aware of and we need to fight at every moment. No complacency, because complacency kills.