On July 4, 1776, King George III of England wrote in his diary, “Nothing happened today.”
That same day, fifty-six men of the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence. Through this document, they created a new nation, independent of British rule. Through this document, they created a country that would one day become a world power unequaled in strength and prosperity. What looked like an ordinary day from the King’s perspective was really a day of extraordinary proportions.
King George III, the leader of the world’s strongest country at the time, didn’t think anything important had happened that day, because he didn’t respect his competition. He knew that the colonials were trying to shrug off the yoke of his leadership, but he didn’t think they had it in them. His early attempts to quell their revolutionary spirit included imposing higher taxes and restrictive laws. These actions further angered the colonials and united them behind a shared indignation. While King George III had been distracted by his obvious adversaries (France, in particular), the colonials had been quietly gathering strength and organization until they were able to throw off the king’s yoke altogether.
In the words of Gerald Nachman, “Nothing fails like success.” Once we are the reigning leader in a particular area, we typically become complacent. We stop doing the things that got us there. We switch our focus from our weaknesses and the threats to our success and put it solely on our strengths and accomplishments. When we do, we are susceptible to attack from even the most unlikely of sources.
Don’t make the same mistake King George III made. Always keep your eye on tomorrow’s competition.