Don’t Rest on your Laurels

Dear Yellow Rose, it has been a minute, I hope you are keeping well and thriving.  It has been a few months since we celebrated International Women’s day, but I hope you haven’t forgotten the theme for this year which is to choose to challenge. I really hope that in the last few months, you have found ways to choose to challenge gender inequality and the stereotypes that come with being female. I am sure you are flying the flag for all of us, keep pushing.

I have been reflecting on what women have achieved for themselves since the start of the 20th century. We have come a long way from not having a vote, from being excluded in tertiary institutions of learning, to being able to own our own money and find paid employment. While great progress has been made, an event like the COVID pandemic shows how much success can be eroded in a very short period with many women disproportionately affected by job losses impacting industries where most women work like retail, trade, admin etc. This shows that we must not rest on out laurels and must continue to press for progress in our lives and for equality in accessing opportunities.

If you are unfamiliar with the phrase,  “to rest on your laurels” is an idiom that in ancient times meant to rest on your accomplishments; a kind of retirement or finish after your crown of laurels is received. Resting on your laurels means you get complacent or lazy. You bask in past successes rather than continue to achieve, rather than continue to push for more progress. But we can’t afford to do that.

Why, you may ask? Well, let us talk about it.  It is a natural human tendency to stop pushing when we think we have met our milestones. Most people relax because they feel they are in a sweet spot. While this may be so, achieving these objectives doesn’t necessarily equate to meeting our full potential. Would you stop pushing because you won a silver medal, when you know that you could achieve gold with some more effort? You could be the best student in your class presently, but could dwelling on this and getting comfortable prevent you from becoming the best student in your district, in your state etc?

Hopefully you get the point which is that you should enjoy your achievements, but have a growth mindset. Always challenge yourself to think how you can improve. Achieving a successful outcome is fantastic but it needs continued effort to sustain the same level of success and to achieve more.  It does not matter what your level of expertise is or how sound you are intellectual if you rest on your laurels, it will become obvious with time. You need to work to keep your skills current, read more, learn more, collaborate with others more to stay ahead of the pack! Here are some tips to apply immediately:

1. Take a Moment to Remember

We are not to live in the past, but that does not mean we should not reflect on our previous victories and what it took to get that achievement and learn from it.

2. Take Stock of What You Have

What is in your hands? What do you have NOW to work with? New resources? New skills? New vision? New people, to help? New opportunities open with new supply? Now that you know what you have, use it to improve yourself.

3. Take New Ground

What next after your previous victory? You do something completely different or you do something in a completely different way. Pioneer change, be a voice and a force wherever you find yourself.

Final word is a borrowed quote from Sheila Johnson, she said “Don’t rest on your laurels. There is always going to be someone behind you who is going to be better than you. So you need to get out there and keep working”.

Cheers!