Complacency is an interesting thing. Self-satisfaction, accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. The most skilled, longest-tenured workers will need to be especially aware of complacency. If you’ve done the task a hundred times, there’s a tendency for the brain to go on auto-pilot, leading to complacency and the opportunity to make a mistake — perhaps leading to severe consequences.
Your brain essentially has two parts — creatively nicknamed by neuroscientists as System 1 and System 2. System 2 is your conscious, pilot brain. You have control of your willpower and conscious thoughts. Only 5% of your brain’s activity is in this mode, plodding along as it performs one task at a time (no, the brain doesn’t actually “multitask”). The other 95% is done in System 1 — the auto-pilot brain, the subconscious, habit part.
Here’s a wake-up call: the auto-pilot part of your brain is way stronger than the pilot part!
So what do we do? How can we avoid the hazard of going on auto-pilot at work? Well, obviously the first step is being aware of the phenomena. The next step is being cognizant that hazards exist, even in our most boring, routine, and mundane work. And finally, always try to approach your work with fresh eyes and a questioning attitude. Not only will this help avoid unseen hazards, but it will strengthen your continuous improvement and learning mindset.