It’s that time of the year when we take the time to pause and reflect. We measure ourselves based on the goals that we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year.

Before I took over as CEO for Crestcom International, I focused on helping CEOs and organizations develop their business growth strategy. My process involved a stakeholder questionnaire and research to develop or evolve their SWOT analysis.

In several instances, as I analyzed the data from stakeholder questionnaires, I realized that the CEOs were looking outside for answers, rather than inside. For many CEOs, the biggest and most dangerous competitor is themselves, and it is called Status Quo.

The status quo mindset allows us to think: If something is working today, let’s not worry about it. Let’s leave it alone. This is not the strategy of a successful and thriving, company. A company that is always improving and asking the tough questions.

As soon as you stop improving, you fall behind. At that point, you can consider your organization dead. It is not a matter of if, or even how, but when. You may be able to limp along for a few years doing the same things in the same way. But, at some point, the market catches up. You are either buried by your competition or you become irrelevant.

The status quo mindset also significantly impacts your company culture.

The sense of urgency slows and employees fall into a familiar pattern of doing the same thing over and over. They become slower. Creativity and innovation wilt as new ideas are consistently blocked by status quo barriers. The company experiences a “brain drain” as energetic, forward-thinking employees leave to find greater opportunities, leaving behind only those people that are comfortable with the status quo mindset.

As you look back on 2016, be honest with yourself.

  • Have you been stuck in the status quo mindset?
  • How have you improved the way you do business this year?
  • How have you added more value to your company, to your customers, this past year?
  • How have you invested in your people? Are they being developed? Are they growing and bringing new ideas to the table?
  • Are you bored in your job or are you always working on new ways to improve?
  • Are you still learning, still growing?

Commit to embracing a new way of thinking and operating in the next year. Find ways to stay agile, even if you are leading a larger company. Bring in your team and engage them in thinking creatively on how to grow the business and improve operations. Embrace and enjoy a journey of change and feeling uncomfortable.Don’t put off investments that will improve employee engagement, customer experience, and your products or services.

The time for growth is now. Become the key competitor.