Momentum is a wonderful force if you are on the right side and riding it to achievement. One key in keeping momentum is to avoid hubris. Pride comes before destruction. When people become complacent with their success and see success as an entitlement. They fail to remember what made the great and take it for granted that what has worked before could work again. They make statements like, “We’re successful because we do these specific things.” Instead they should be focusing on “We are successful because we understand why we do these specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work.”
Jim Collins calls this Stage 1 in his book “How the Mighty Fall” and list four items that cause hubris to creep into people and organizations.
- 1. Neglect of primary flywheel: Leaders get distracted by other exciting potential earnings that they fail to focus on what makes them great in the first place. They made a diversion and failed to improve their primary flywheel or primary business.
- 2. Losing passion for their primary flywheel.
- 3. Focusing on practices and strategies that worked in the past and not the fundamental reasons for its success.
- 4. Refusing to attribute “Luck” random events. They think that success was due to their superior qualities of leadership and enterprise.
One place where these items stand out to me is not that they moved away from the primary business or stayed true to the primary business to long. It is why they changed or stood firm that caused the delay. Humility is very important to momentum because you have to know when to change and why you are changing. When you become prideful and entitled you lose the ability to make these changes because you feel the world will bend to your will. The minute you feel in control is the first sign of hubris creeping into your organization.
Thankfully this is only stage one and very correctable if found early. When you ignore the subtle signs of hubris creep then you will find it harder to correct. “I’ve come to see institutional decline like a staged disease: harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages, easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside,” ― James C. Collins, How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In