You Can’t Be a Laurel Sitter in a “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” World

Laurel sitting can creep up on people, companies, and teams.

It’s the condition of resting on one’s laurels – accolades, awards, education, training and experience, among other things  – of the past instead of keeping them current, fresh.

Here, for example, is how one coach described it:

“We rested on last year’s laurels. Other teams came right at us and we did not respond to that.”
Wayne Cafferty

Laurel snatching can happen, too. And it can happen when you least expect it.

That’s when you’re not as ready for the current round of competition as your competition is.

Unless you stay competitive, a little bit hungry, and willing and able to do the work it takes to succeed again and again, you can quickly be surpassed or, worse, become irrelevant in today’s market.

Other companies may swoop in with a great new idea, superbly executed, and perhaps better than your latest idea was.

The thing it may be easy to forget is that, no matter how successful you and your company have been, other people, companies, and teams want success just as much as you do.

You may find they even want it more.

And if their employees are learning and improving faster than yours are, working better as a team than yours are, they’re likely to be very effective competitors.

Sometimes, what you wanted in the past just doesn’t thrill you anymore.

In that case, you may find you’re actually ready to walk away from laurels of the past. You may be on an active search for something new that’s now more interesting and more challenging to you.

Let’s say, though, you do not want to change. You like the way things have always been, including the competitive position you’ve had in the market.

Sometimes the opportunity to continue to compete the way you want to just comes to an end. How you adapt to that change dictates your future opportunities.

You can try to run or hide, or you can dive in, facing the change that has come your way.

Some companies take their success for granted, and let it slip away.

It almost seems as if they privately believe, “We’ve got this. It’s ours. We’ve earned the right from all our hard work in the past not to have to work very hard anymore.”

And we all know of companies that lose their competitive edge when they’re not paying attention to customers’ changing wants and needs.

The market moves on, while they don’t.

If you recognize that laurel sitting, or the loss of past laurels is affecting your company or team, there are things you can do.

Here are just a few ways to increase your focus, intensity, and drive for your goals now:

– Take the time to refresh. remember times when you felt fully engaged, fully involved in a job, team role, or work project.

Notice what’s common about those experiences.

What did you especially like about them?

Can you apply some of those approaches – and if so, how – to your current goals and challenges?

– Remember what your dreams once were. Next, look at what your current dreams are. 

Notice how your dreams have changed – if they have.

Let your aspirations serve as a guide for actions, decisions, and focus now.

– Brainstorm at least ten ways to turn today’s dreams into fact and experience.

Consider what it would really take to turn your dreams into reality.

Start taking action, even in very small and non-threatening ways that takes you closer to achievement of your dreams today.

– Live more fully in the present.

– Learn to look with clear eyes at the facts of your current situation.

Use those facts – about yourself, your current resources, skills and abilities, as well as about the market you’re competing in – to fuel change if you don’t like what you see today.

– Take the time to appreciate the good things you have now. Fully revel in the best of what you have.

– Appreciate, then let go of the past.

– Create a future that is more compelling by starting to step into it.

If you’re moving a new direction, start to move into it gradually, through experimentation. “Beta test” the possibilities of this new direction. Learn and grow new skills and resources that will help you move into the future more confidently and successfully.

– Remember the joy (yes, joy) of learning, trying, testing and mastering new skills.

No matter how hard the pursuit seems when you’re in the thick of it, excellence and mastery feels good when you achieve it.

Laurels of the past can become the incentive for laurels still ahead.

Enjoy your journey, whatever it is. Appreciate successes of the past, and look forward to new ones, still ahead.

jan@jgrichardsresults.com' About Jan Richards

Principal of J. G. Richards Consulting, Jan helps companies improve profitability and revenue as they decrease business complexity and costs. This occurs in many ways, including: streamlining business operations; project management for major change and process improvement teams; coaching leaders of major change programs; creating long-range visions and strategic plans. A WIC Board member, Jan oversees WIC's strategic initiatives and mentoring programs.

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