The 3 Massive Ways Complacency Nearly Killed Me – Hassan Younes’ Story
Complacency might seem trivial for most people. But for a few, it can be the cause of a life-changing tragedy. Personally, it almost cost me my life.
I’m Hassan Younes, a public speaker and serial entrepreneur.
Let me tell you a little personal story...
In 2012, I was operating an expanding childcare business. It was the prime of my life as an entrepreneur, as cash flow in this business was pouring in streams.
The best part was that I was able to keep the business running even if I’m not physically there. Our operations grew bigger and bigger, and I was satisfied.
Maybe excessively so. Until I just took everything for granted.
Since everything was going well, I relaxed. I let others run the business for me and indulged myself to be lazy.
I even started having four-day weekends...because why not?
Until suddenly, my business hit rock bottom. From 965% business capacity and income flow, it plummeted to a mere 34%.
All in a snap.
Things got so rough that I couldn't even pay invoices just to keep the business afloat. I found no other contingency but to draw out $340,000 on my home mortgage.
I found that risking my family's security was the only way my business could survive.
Terrible, isn’t it?
But that’s not the end of it. Here’s the straw that broke the camel’s back:
One time, my daughter asked for a dollar for lunch. I was so broke that I couldn't even give her a single dollar coin. Not even after scouring all over my house for one.
I felt powerless. Like I was just going to drop dead at any time—from shame, guilt, and yes, hunger.
Thankfully, I made it out of that situation alive. I got myself out of the mess I made and survived by going straight to the root cause of the tragedy: The cancer of complacency.
The cancer spread across multiple domains, ranging from my professional relationships, health, and even my marriage and family life.
I’m telling you all these because the mistakes I made are the same mistakes you can make both in your business or life. At least, you have my experience to learn from.
So, I will now unpack all the errors I made due to complacency and show you how I could’ve avoided them. As they say, hindsight is always 20/20.
This way, you can spare yourself the heartbreaking sight of your daughter staring you in the eye when you’re about to lose everything.
3 Mistakes You Should Avoid
Mistake No. 1: Don’t Be Lazy
One of the silliest things I did was allow myself to be lazy. Instead of working like I normally would, I started taking four-day long weekends where I’d go out to restaurants or watch movies.
Laziness is a big problem, but it’s also a helpful indicator that something may be wrong with your business. If you find yourself needing long breaks from what you do every day, then you might not be happy at all with your work or business.
So, I found that the best way to avoid laziness is to improve how I felt working for the business.
You can do the same by:
Making your goals manageable.
Not expecting yourself to be perfect.
Start with these actionable, practical steps. And before you know it, the heavy pressure will be lifted off your shoulders. Work will again start to feel like play. And you won’t need that ever so desirable 4-day weekend again.
Which brings us to the next mistake I learned…
Mistake No. 2: Letting Profits Dip Below The Breakeven Level
“Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing.” - Warren Buffett
When my company’s profit levels dropped, I ignored it. I thought it was going to rise back up anyway without any effort on my part.
But that proved far from true. My miscalculation made the problem worse. My business plummeted further that it almost got too late to salvage it.
So, what’s my key takeaway from this second big mistake?
It’s not to be complacent about small losses. Because small losses are still easy to weed out and fix. But when those losses balloon, there’s no telling if they can still be reversible.
Mine overwhelmed me that I almost had to sell my house and risk my family’s safety.
Avoid the same mistake by fixing the smallest leaks in your business before it gets too late.
Mistake No. 3: Not Innovating
My third mistake was not innovating enough. And that’s because I made the critical mistake of thinking that my product was future-proof. I figured, well, if it worked for years already, it’s bound to still work well into the future.
Of course, I was wrong...
Elon Musk had it right. Here’s what he said about innovation:
"The path to the CEO's office should not be through the CFO's office, and it should not be through the marketing department. It needs to be through engineering and design."
Sales and marketing come afterwards. Because design and engineering are the core of your business.
Innovation is the only way to future-proof the business. No matter how well-loved your product is now, your business can still go obsolete if everyone else but you keeps on innovating.
Complacency: The Innovation Killer
Remember Kodak? What about Toys R’ Us? Or Blockbuster Video? You probably do. And you probably remember them as some of the most successful companies that went down the gurgler.
Now of course, it’s a stretch to say that these companies only failed because they were all just too lazy to innovate.
We’re not that naive.
But I did look closely into each of the companies to find out why they failed.
It’s true that all of these companies’ innovation has stagnated or is practically dead. Second, these companies almost don’t have a creative department to speak of.
It's almost like they’re not trying anymore! But all these things are rooted in one truth: Complacency is rampant in their workforce.
Kodak became complacent that their once breakthrough tech would remain relevant in the age of the internet. In Toys R Us, the complacency lay on their assumption that the toy industry doesn't need to keep up with market changes because toys never change. Blockbuster Video became complacent in thinking that streaming is not a real threat.
And boy were they wrong!
Because even if you’re once a global leader in photography equipment like Kodak, you’re gonna fall if you don’t keep up.
Even if you’re an unbeatable home movie and video game rental provider like Blockbuster Video, you’re sending your company to slow death when you’re complacent.
Because when complacency is so deeply ingrained in a business or an area of your personal life, it kills innovation. And when you don’t innovate or keep up with new trends, you might as well just close shop.
And that’s something I would never wish to happen in my company. Or even yours!
Fortunately, I was still able to turn my life and business around to avoid what happened to the aforementioned companies
You, too, can avoid tragedy. You just have to stop underestimating the ability of complacency to kill everything you hold dear. But the good news is that you don’t have to carry this burden alone. You can reach out to me and find out how my speaking services can reassess your business and protect it from the risks of complacency.