Be Constructively Discontent

I am a fan of quotes- they can be inspiring, disconcerting, and challenging… all at once. Quotes are like a snack for the mind, giving a mental boost or sparking thought that can lead to personal growth. One such quote caught my eye this week, and it came from an unlikely source. In a press release discussing financial performance in the most recent quarter, a company’s CEO said that despite a strong quarter and year-to-date performance that his company is “constructively discontent and resolutely focused on our future…”

What a challenging way to manage a business! The thought of being constructively discontent has gripped me ever since. The quote struck a nerve with me as I have always approached teaching with a similar mindset. The prospect of becoming outdated and stale is disturbing enough that I challenge myself regularly to become a better teacher and scholar. Complacency is the enemy; if you are not growing you are dying.

Who said his company was constructively discontent? It was Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola. What makes his remarks interesting is the company had a good quarter by all accounts - international sales volume up 5%, net revenue up 45%, and operating income up 17%. These figures coupled with the brand stature of Coca-Cola would make it a prime candidate for complacency, but that is not the case. The company has a long-range plan called 2020 Vision that outlines goals to pursue between now and 2020, a strategy that falls in line with being constructively discontent.

It is easy to be discontent; it can also be destructive. But, when constructive discontent is encouraged, discontent with status quo and exploring avenues for growth keeps an organization and its employees hungry to accomplish more. However, adopting a mindset of being constructively discontent must be a conscious choice- you have to work at it. Don’t settle – I refuse to accept self-imposed limitations – and I hope you will join me in being constructively discontent.

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