1. pleased, esp. with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied: The voters are too complacent to change the government.

Recently my friend Jacob wrote a post on his blog on The Stupidity of the Job System. I’ve been having some serious feelings about this as well with my graduation from college coming up after this coming school year. I’ve had several interviews recently and have been reading about startups and other businesses who have been successful despite the recent recession. There’s one thing that seems to stand out to me and is the problem with 99% of businesses out there. Complacency.

Most people automatically assume standard practices are best. It’s not. It’s boring and it doesn’t get the job done anywhere near as well as it could be. Businesses need to survive, but as the world changes, they have to change with it. Jacob had mentioned how he was annoyed with building resumes and cover letters because it is the accepted practice that you make up some BS about yourself and submit it to employers.

But I had another view at this. It’s hard to write these kinds of things because that’s not your personality. You don’t normally brag about yourself so why should you have to here? But wait, are these places which look a degree in BS and the ability create a fake, souped up version of yourself on paper really the kind of people you want to work for? You can only assume that they will expect the same approach to climb the chain inside of the business. Meetings about nothing and useless reports are likely going to plague you, stifle any creativity and passion you had for your job, and in the end, you’re going to become a zombie employee like everyone else at the company. Complacent because you are receiving a paycheck which is enough to live on and drink away your sorrows on the weekends. You come to accept that this is life, this is “happiness” as defined by business because everyone else is in the same position everywhere you look.

This applies to school as well. I’ve been kind of frustrated recently with the way I have been taught at my university. I’m a computer science major and things change fast. Daily. They still teach me like it’s the 80′s. I’m still learning C as the primary language, when in reality, I think it’s certainly not the best choice. There are many other languages out there that could more efficiently teach concepts and best practices. After all, learning a language is easy, it is the concepts that is the hard part. But no. They’ve taught things this way for years, they are content getting paid to do what they have always done and that’s that. Only one or two professors realize this change is imperative and just like many businesses changes like this must be debated in meetings. Chances are action on this won’t happen for a while.

The companies I would consider working for are the ones driving innovation; pushing the bar. How are they doing this? By providing freedom and core values to shine through the BS that is today’s business world. These are the places that give employees time to work on things they enjoy researching for fun. I mean, look at Google. 50% of their products have come from the 20% of free time they give each employee. Allowing this freedom has given a huge boost to their company. Other places like Tesla are pushing the bar for consumer electric automobiles. How? Because they are free to research and explore in order to find improvements. And just look at the results, it works!

Zappos is another great example. They empower their employees to do what they feel is best, just read any reviews of their customer support. This empowerment brings creativity and excitement to employees which almost all business I’ve known are seriously lacking in. Nobody is excited to go to work anymore, employees are only acquaintances to each other or casual friends, and the core of their business does not thrive. Bring change, bring innovation, and it will create value in all aspects of your business. The true value they have is the interaction with customers.

At the end of the day it comes down to this: People have lost their sense of true happiness. The world distorts the pursuit of happiness into some kind of end goal where material goods are where the value lies. What are the best memories you have? They almost certainly of people.

We all see these campaigns to solve world hunger but what’s the most people do? They donate $10. But where does the money go? It goes to the starving people you say? This doesn’t mean anything if there isn’t someone actually using the money to make a difference. $10 is nothing more than $10. We have plenty of money, but we need ideas and happiness. Neither of these are about money. Sure you need money to attain goals, but money isn’t the goal itself.

Chase your passion, not your paycheck. Change the world, get out of the rut you are living, and quit being complacent.

In case you’d like to get a better understanding of the focus on happiness and culture over at Zappos check out this book:

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