I wanted to share a very poignant story that I read from Paul Graham, a software engineer and venture capitalist. In sharing this with you, it is my hope that it makes a difference for you.

He said that while he was in Africa he saw a lot of animals in the wild that he had only seen in zoos before. He notes how different they seemed – especially lions. The lions in the wild seem 10 times more alive. In his words “they’re like different animals”. He then makes a comparison and says working for oneself feels better to humans in much the same way that living in the wild must feel better to a wide ranging predator like a lion. Life in a zoo is easier, but it isn’t the life they were designed for.

Our working life

Working in the rat race/ in a cubicle is easy – it’s comfortable (we know what to expect) its stable (regular income) and there is enough social proof – in another words, the majority of people work in a cubicle or in the rat race, (ironically it’s what we strive to do graduating from school or university), so we think – the rat race must be okay. These 3 ingredients of comfort, stability and social proof in our working life build complacency.

What’s so bad about complacency?

Complacency is paralyzing – when there is complacency there is no motivation to grow, to explore, no reason to have energy to build curiosity or to question and seek better answers. Just think about where you have worked or continue to work, how many of the people around you if you asked them “do you love what you do would say YES? How many are eager or energetic? How many just hang –out for the pay-check? Is this maybe you at all?

What I take away from Paul’s story is that it’s nice to be safe (zoo or organisation), it’s comfortable to be stable, it’s even better that we think this is how our working life is supposed to be because millions of others also work in a cubicle (social proof). But if comfort, social proof and stability were all we needed, then why do we still complain about our job? Why do people psyche themselves to go to work, waiting for the end of the day, the end of the week, the end of this job to get to another job they probably won’t enjoy?

I should be grateful; there are people who don’t have a job

For success to be realised, gratefulness is always a constant trait, that’s a given. It definitely is a blessing to have the comforts a job affords (regular income, paid leave etc ) and to live in a country where we have the luxury of complaining about disliking our jobs rather than talking about when the next grenade strike or drone might hit if we were living in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya etc. Since we are in the mighty blessed situation of choosing what we can do in exchange for an income, and if stability, comfort and social proof doesn’t cut it, then what does? What if we became lions- not the captured, placid and subdued ones in the zoo – real lions – the type that Paul referred to that are 10 times more alive, the type that do what they ARE created to do.

Earl Nightingale once said – Cowardice is not the opposite of courage, complacency is.

To the lion in you.


P.S If you think this article would help a friend or colleague, please feel free to pass it on.

What are your thoughts, does this article resonate with you, does it make you re-evaluate? I’d love you to share your comments below and I’ll join in the conversation 🙂