Status quo is derived from the latin phrase “in statu quo” meaning “the state in which.” Today, it generally refers to the state in which things are. This is misleading as nothing every stays the same.
The status quo works against us all of the time. In business, for example, when things are good, we tend to credit ourselves and our colleagues for that success: awards, parties, bonuses. When performance turns negative, we typically blame external circumstances, like the economy or a member of the team not pulling their weight, then push to further to improve results. In either situation, the same things are still being done–the rationale has just changed.
The status quo feels comfortable there’s very little surprise. Much of the choice has been removed. Barry Swartz has written in The Paradox of Choice that when we are presented with more options “we become overloaded.” Choice can “even be said to tyrannize.”
Even when there is a sense that the status quo should be challenged, the countless options to arrive at the change can be paralyzing. For that reason, the more familiar path is often the one chosen and the status quo wins again.
The most difficult part of change is in the details. Even when it’s clear that a change needs to take place, the steps to get there are not often obvious. The process for creating change is just as important as the change itself and outlining the steps can help eliminate some of the fear.
The status quo whispers in your ear why change when it’s comfortable where you are? But when you know deep down that there is something more, it’s worth the risk.