“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” -Andy (Andrew) Grove

Andy Grove

Andy Grove could not have said the above any better and the life he lived adds even more to the quote’s credibility and accuracy.

Andy died this past March of 2016. He lived a life of learning and was a philanthropist at heart. Some of you may recognize his name from being one of the founders and CEO for Intel Corporation.  His life story consists of nothing but inimical, external pressures, the exact pressure needed to create a diamond. The kind of pressure that reveals so beautifully the misplacement of complacency in the human heart and mind.

Born in Hungary during World War II to a Jewish family, him and his mother took on fake identities to avoid being sent to Auschwitz. Due to the predisposition of his birth, and its time and location, the harsh reality of inferiority and hate swirled around him. (In 1944 nearly 440,000 Jews were deported from Hungary to concentration camps in as little as two months [1]. Andy lived in Budapest, Hungary from his birth of 1936 through 1956. No wonder he believed only the paranoid survive!)

Andy escaped to the United States at 20 years old and arrived destitute. He barely spoke English and worked as a busboy while he attended City College of New York for Chemical Engineering (anyone who gets a degree in Chemical Engineering is genius in my book). He later went on to earn his PhD from UC Berkley and soon after assisted in creating Intel [2].

Admittedly it’s hard not to love a “rags to riches” story, but this is more than that! Andy was forced to take risks and step outside of what he knew, complacency had no place in his life because it was not an option. Trials can be unbearable, but if anything they challenge us to always be doing more, working harder: we need struggle, we need opposition.

“Success breeds complacency.”

I love the first line of this quote. Success is not always temporary, but its effects are. The success of receiving a college degree, dropping 20 pounds, being promoted to a higher positon at work, earning a bonus to buy a new car–it all feels great at first and then with time what happens? WE GET BORED. What happens when we get bored–we become grumpy, depressed, and displaced.

Of course we want to strive to have successes like the ones I listed above. Yet the skewed belief still remains commonplace in the world that if you work hard enough to get the degree or pay raise or (insert the blank), you will have “made it” and no longer need to continue to strive for something greater. Lies!

First, every single person reading this right now CAN do things you NEVER imagined yourself doing. I know.

Second, God created you to be a creature who desires spiritual/intellectual nourishment, an appetite for knowledge. Inside you are talents waiting to be exploited and shared with the world, talents reposed in the fibers of what makes you special. You are special.

Let’s get down to the truth (sorry to any of my O-Town friends reading this right now), but my hometown of Ogden, Utah is a bubble. A majority of the people are complacent. People settle and they are unhappy. Yet, the worst part of growing up in a bubble is how many complacent adults would make the idea of doing something greater than the expectation seem complex or extremely tedious. Guess what? You want to become someone, you want to do something with your life? Then do it. Nothing is complex about it! When you put forth some effort, set some goals for yourself, and have faith in your mission, you will find it is actual quite simple. It is actual quite natural.

“Complacency breeds failure.”

I once had someone tell me “you never fail until you give up.” Complacency is giving up. You aren’t trying to do anything–you are doing nothing.

Who truly desires to become a failure? No one. If you think failure is for you, then message me and I will tell you all the reasons why you are wrong. I am only speaking from my heart to the heart of my readers. I know how hard it is to find joy, peace, and fulfillment when you choose to be complacent and I also know complacency is a choice. Think bigger, aim higher.

When my husband and I first moved away from “our bubble” to San Diego it was new, exciting and especially challenging. Miles away my family laughed and shared new memories without me. Not to mention, as we waited for our apartment to be ready for move-in, we lived in about 6 different places in the span of 2 weeks, lugging our stuff to and from various hotels. One time we stayed in the solar technicians’ apartment. The place reeked of pee and alcohol, but it taught me to be grateful, no matter the condition, when you have a roof over your head–to many in the world a safe place to rest your head at night is considered a luxury.

Bills started becoming a normal thing (not to mention the crazy high electric bill out there–on some BS). It was a struggle and then it got easier and soon we were bored. So we moved to NYC and said bring on the next chapter!

Point of the story is: many parts of who I am today are greatly due to the experiences I had in Cali, I claimed many new successes I never even thought of seeking, I never even knew existed.

Not everyone needs to move somewhere new to take off the twenty-pound backpack filled with demotivation, dissatisfaction, and time wasted. If a twenty-pound backpack sits atop your shoulders and is getting heavy, take it off for a sec. See how you feel and do what feels natural. Maybe you run a little, do a dance, explore a new path. Challenge yourself, prove yourself right. Then do it again.

“Only the paranoid survive.”

Pretty sure if weed was legal on a federal level more people would be surviving! Haha! 🙂

Much can be found in between the lines of this brilliant saying…I recently read many interpretations on what Andy Grove meant by his profound statement, each one unique. Take away your own interpretation, maybe even share it with a friend.

To me, paranoia is a feeling associated with discomfort. It is a feeling of threat. Typically when we do not feel comfortable or threatened, it gives us reason to move–do something–change the game!

“Some of us have had plenty of practice developing and accepting behaviors that keep us complacent, bored with life, completely mediocre, and mentally defeated, which can deteriorate our ability to thrive.” -Rhona “Rho” Bennett

If we assume “striving” is the same as “thriving” we can see similarities to what both Andy and Rho are trying to tell us.

Maybe only those who are constantly on their guard, preparing their minds, accentuating their strengths, accepting of their frailties, refusing to trust others who hinder their development, will be the ones to survive in the end. The ones who thrive; prosper; flourish.

Just remember, the choice is up to you. You choose whether or not you want to rid the extra weight…

Much love,

KelseyWithSomeJo ❤


[1]: Information acquired from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s official website: https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005458

[2]: Exact names and dates pertaining to Andy Grove’s life were taken from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Grove

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