Complacency is Costly: The sinking of the Titanic serves as example of the dangers of complacency, which in this case resulted in some 1500 men, women and children losing their lives. You will remember that Titanic was the ship that sank on her maiden voyage, in 1912, after hitting an iceberg. Titanic was considered by her owners, the White Star Line, and also her insurers, Lloyds of London, to be unsinkable. In fact, so complacent were they of Titanic’s invulnerability that the ship was allowed to sail with only enough lifeboats for half the people on board. When the accident happened, at 11:40pm on April 14th, there was very little in the way of commotion among the passengers, who were simply told that there was a minor problem which would cause a short delay. The ship’s orchestra carried on playing, and passengers continued to socialise and make merry in the comfortable saloons.

When eventually the order was given to man the lifeboats, many passengers refused to leave the warmth and comfort of the ship’s saloon, preferring instead, to believe that the ship wasn’t in any real danger. The thought of venturing out onto the icy, cold Atlantic Ocean in a lifeboat at the dead of night initially seemed preposterous to many passengers. Ironically, the first few lifeboats pulled away only half full, and the rest of the story, as they say, is history! Indeed, complacency is costly, and no more so than in business.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, excerpt adapted from Maximize Your Potential