Maintaining The Status Quo

By Sean Stevenson – Latest Revision March 4th, 2021

Maintaining The Status Quo Is A Failure In Leadership

There is always a better way forward.  Progress is by its very nature, a series of good decisions built one atop the other.  There is no “silver bullet,” no one idea that gets you there.  Rather, it is a contrast of well-executed and thought-out principles that are routinely acted upon.

A great leader recognizes that maintaining any status quo is the enemy of progress.  The best philosophy that leadership can offer, is that everyone deserves a chance at personal growth and prosperity.

In any scenario where a status quo is maintained, you can be certain that stagnation will eventually take over.  Those in key management positions who maintain their grip on power will have nobody to challenge them.  Without any challenge, it will be impossible to make progress.

All a status quo can ever accomplish, is to enable mediocrity.  In short, you will never be able to achieve great things if you allow a status quo to be maintained.

Conversely, being able to challenge the status quo, and to push for important reform, is one of the most important characteristics of achieving lasting merit.  The most successful companies on earth have come to realize that change is inevitable.  Embracing that change requires insight and flexibility. 

Recognizing A Maintained -Or Imminent- Status Quo

Ask yourself about the nature of your work and the people you find yourself surrounded with.  As a group, are you transparent and open to change?  Are there certain individuals who constantly try to put themselves “above” the rest?”

If there are any red flags like these present in your workplace, you may be facing an existing or potential status quo.

As a responsible leader it is your duty to challenge and dismantle structures that deter progress.  Moreover, you must remain vigilant over time to ensure that collective goals and achievements are not threatened by the greed of individuals on your team.

Understanding The Threat

Stagnation is something we all face.  As professionals, and even in our personal lives, we each face the chance of self-inflicted failure.  This is the nature of stagnation itself.  The very thing that can bring all of our years of effort crashing down on a whim.

The Roman Empire fell because of its own internal failings.  By the time the Vandals (barbarians) began sacking Rome, it wasn’t because the legions had been defeated.  The war had been lost and won within the Roman Empire itself.  The once illustrious beacon of civilization had withered from within.  It’s own decadence and failure to keep up with the times had led it to an inevitable demise.

This is the nature of stagnation.  It can only be combatted by acting in opposition to a maintained -or imminent- status quo.

For some of us, it can seem to be in our own interest to maintain the status quo.  Whether its in the office, or at home, it can be easy to become comfortable.

Unfortunately, this is where we let ourselves go.  We fail to see that we’re only contributing to our own internal demise, no different than the Roman Empire. 

What got us to this point, can quickly become forgotten.  We lose touch with what made us successful in the first place.  Then we start to become complacent and lose the motivation to win.

Maintaining The Status Quo

“Encourage innovation.  Change is our lifeblood, stagnation our death knell.”

-David Ogilvy

Heraclitus On Change

Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, famously once stated that, “The only constant in life, is change.”  He could not have been more right in his dissertation.

As leaders, we must each recognize that what gets you “there” (in any future state) requires a significant change in your current state.

Nothing simply comes because you “wish it to,” unless that thing is already in motion from outside influence.  This means that if you really want to achieve something, you must dedicate yourself to the changes that will allow you to fulfill that promise. 

While this can sound daunting (and it should), there is in fact nothing more satisfying than achieving positive change in your life.  The moment you realize you’ve crossed that Rubicon, you will quickly come to realize there is no turning back.  It’s a feeling unlike anything else.  It’s the feeling of freedom.

A true leader recognizes that freedom demands change.  By setting lofty goals, anyone can determine their own fate. 

Even if you fail in your initial attempts, you will still be bettering yourself, or even reaching smaller goals in time.

Ask yourself if this sounds appealing to you.  Unless you would rather fight the positivity of change by maintaining a status quo, I think you can easily see where the real opportunity is.

Achieving Personal Greatness

Innovate.  Every single day.

This is what it takes to become far more than what you are now.  Your own deepest satisfaction requires that you master yourself and your own fate.

Of course, these things can sound difficult to incorporate into your daily life.  You may even scoff and simply feel you’re too average to accomplish something of significance.  In either case, you would be wrong.

Achieving personal greatness never happens overnight.  Ironically enough, enriched and mainstream media would have you believe that greatness is something instantaneous.  This could not be further from the truth.

All great men and women throughout history worked endlessly to achieve their goals.  They refused to compromise their great visions for anything or anyone.  This is the power of belief.

Therefore, believe in yourself.  Start by setting attainable goals that truly matter to you.  This will set you on a completely different path than the one you are on now.  All you have to do is follow through and remain consistently diligent in your efforts.

A Message For Maintaining The Status Quo

As someone who has had some success in life, I am constantly strategizing for the future.  The alternative for me is something horrendous.  I could choose to do nothing.

Yet for my life, I know this would be a fatal error. 

I have been both wealthy and poor in my lifetime.  One of the two didn’t bring me happiness necessarily, but it certainly brought me a sense of purpose.

To this day, I believe more strongly than ever, that it is purpose that drives us.  Beyond anything else, the need to do or build something meaningful, is what has allowed human civilization to prosper over the centuries.

Certainly, we stumble, we fall.  Yet it is in our pursuit of the unattainable, that we find ourselves in greater measure than we had ever thought possible.

To ensure your own future success, eliminate the inhibitors and toxicity of your world.  Find what is getting in your way, and remove it.  If you have to, walk away.  Do whatever is necessary to make progress and -whatever you do- never maintain the status quo.

Maintaining The Status Quo

“Simplicity boils down to two steps:  Identify the essential.  Eliminate the rest.”

-Leo Babauta

Challenge Yourself and Your Team

Both individuals and entire teams need to be able to take a step back.  Analyzing what’s happening, what has gone wrong, and what has succeeded, is one of the most valuable things you can possibly do to further your aims. 

Encourage free-flowing discussions to optimize your understanding in this fashion.  Find powerful goals and assess performance before responding to the needs of the moment.  Your business will thank you -with dividends- for this later.

Promoting discussions alone, however, is simply not enough.  You have to face the hard truths and discuss the critical nature of the future.  Try to brainstorm in terms of both short and long-term goals.  Analyze threats and identify weaknesses with unbridled clarity.

The only way to create an agenda that truly reflects your circumstances, is by facing challenges directly, and then forming a coherent plan of execution to deal with them.  This requires a removal of egos from the room -a feat not easily accomplished in many circles- which is necessary for prolonged growth.

If you find you and your team are struggling in your discussions and process, here are some ideas that may help:

  • Assign reading materials that will help everyone engage more thoughtfully.
  • Bring in a professional guest speaker with qualifications that will help inspire your team to think more critically.
  • Develop polls and customer focus groups that can bring new insights.  This will help spur your collective thought process towards developing new and important ideas on how to best leverage your efforts.

Further reading:  Dale Botting wrote an excellent article about the current climate we find ourselves in, and the challenges it presents in business.  He listed 11 Ways To Emerge from Covid19 as a TRUE leader on his blog.  I highly recommend you read Dale’s article and check out his website here.

How To Not Maintain The Status Quo

Injecting your organization with thought-provoking ideas is a necessity.  As a leader, this duty will always fall to you. 

You must recognize that most people will only be focused on safeguarding their own interests.  They will hesitate to contribute in a meaningful way.  This can create a “doom-loop” of inaction where little gets accomplished and discussions falter.

Promoting the efforts of everyone as both individuals and part of a team will help break this cycle. 

For best results, include the milestones your organization reaches as part of your updates to the team.  Strategic planning processes should never be limited to operations alone.  There is always a human element involved, and it must be considered carefully for maximum effect.

Conclusion – Maintaining The Status Quo

Maintaining the status quo can have dire effects on any organization. 

Always remember that positive changes are to be preferred.  There may be a time and a place to “hold court” with your most prominent team members or employees.  However, this is never a long-term solution.

As leaders, we must be constantly looking to the future.  Failure to do so, leaves us open to stagnation, and eventual business collapse. 

Think carefully and strategically on how to best leverage your organization towards its own success.  Maintaining the status quo is never the solution, and there is always a more “perfect” path forward.

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