I heard the term status quo today for the first time in a while. To some people, keeping things status quo is good I guess. It’s better than things getting worse. It reminded me of a day when our fire chief said his goal was to keep things status quo. To me at that time in my career, and the current state of our department, status quo was not even close to what I was looking for. Why would someone settle for status quo when we had some things to work on within our department? That seemed like a pretty poor goal to me.
What I was looking for was some new direction, new goals, and maybe even a little energy coming down from the top. A new chief would be a great time to resolve some of the issues we had been struggling with in training, labor management relations, and overall morale. Unfortunately, the new chief came from the same mold as the outgoing chief, and the last thing the new chief wanted was conflict. Nothing to make a wave, and certainly nothing to rock anyone’s boat.
There are a few reasons people accept status quo. The most common reason is that keeping things the same is safe. If there was no problem before, why change something and take a chance of making a mistake. It takes a certain amount of courage to try new things. Some are afraid of being labeled as a failure if their idea doesn’t work out.
I found one of those motivational sayings at that time that really seemed to fit. I didn’t know it was by John Maxwell until today. “If you don’t change the direction you are going, then you’re likely to end up where you’re heading…” That sure seemed to fit at the time, and where we were going wasn’t where a lot of us wanted to go.
There is only one time in your career that you should accept status quo, and that is when you are the new guy. For your first year or so, no one is really interested in what you think or what you want to improve. Keep your opinions to yourself. You will have a lot of years to give your opinion, but not when you are the new guy.
Don’t waste your time trying to resolve other people’s issues in your department. Work on the issues that are important to you. Work on improving the things that really get under your skin. A lot of people think it is someone else’s job to work on those issues. People that wait for someone else to fix the problems are likely to end up disappointed. Even if your issue is being worked on, the resolution you want to see is not going to be the same as anyone else’s resolution.
You need to ask yourself “What am I going to do about it?” There are people that accept status quo, and there are people that work to make things better. You won’t be able to solve all the problems, but even if you solve a couple, it will be worth your time. Don’t settle for less than the best. If you don’t like the direction you are going, why don’t YOU be the one to start the change of direction.
By John Morse
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