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Two Magic Remedies to the Fallacy of "Not Caring"

If I have heard it once, I have heard it a million times. I guess it what you hear when you represent any human effort focused beyond one's narrow self-interest.

"People just don't care!"

This is one of the most damaging, persistent, and unfortunate human beliefs. In my experience, people use it in order to hide behind it. If people don't care, you can blame them for your lack of progress or success. If people do care and you fail, it's on you (and people do care by the way, so it's on you)

Haven't we all heard it said that it is not what happens; it is what we do with what happens? People have been fickle, distracted, selfish and courageous for a long, long time. That won't change. There is no sense in complaining about it. That would be like yelling at the snow in winter or cursing the setting sun for taking all the light away. So if we can't change how things are, how do we accomplish anything? We change.

I love Jim Rohn's line:

"Don't wish for better circumstances. Wish for greater skills."

I heard this pernicious "don't care" phrase just the other day from a senior level person quite exasperated with the state of this and that. Of course, it was in reference to sustainability in a business school curriculum, as a research agenda, and a renewed vision of capitalism itself. The assumption is that business people only care about maximizing profit.

In my experience, the truth is just the opposite. People care, about a lot of things. If there is a problem with most of us, it is that we care too much about too many things. When I talk to people, I hear they care about:

  • grandchildren and so they travel great distances

  • their children, so they teach, correct and guide them

  • their community, so they volunteer

  • friends, so they invest in them

  • spouses, so they sacrifice for them

  • health, so they take time to care for themselves

  • strangers, so they donate money

And on and on. People care a whole lot! Don't tell me, people don't care.

Two magic remedies for the Fallacy of "Not Caring":

  1. Far better to approach people with the strong belief that they care. The work is to find what they care about. Simon Sinek's leadership book is called Leaders Eat Last for a reason. If you are hoping to lead a change, your needs come last. Most people are too excited about their ideas and when others are not they throw up their hands: "People don't care!" No, you are a poor listener.

  2. People need the opportunity to care. What do I mean by "the opportunity to care"? When someone says, "People don't care." I often ask if we have given them an opportunity to do so. If not, we have absolutely no basis to say whether they care or not. I didn't know I cared about my wife so much until I got to know her. And the more I get to know her, the more I care for her. That is how it works. Example: someone might say to me. "Erik, people don't seem to care at all about the opioid crisis." And I might ask: "How do you know that?" And they would say, "Well I never hear anyone talk about it?" Hey, people are busy and have a lot of things going on. It doesn't mean they don't care. Provide them with the opportunity to care about the opioid crisis. If that issue or concern has been given to you to steward, get to work providing opportunities for others to care. That's your job. If you provide the right opportunity at the right time and some people still don't care, that's called market segmentation. Don't work with them. They are clearly called to work on other things. Work with the people who want to work on your stuff. If you are worthy of being followed, there will be more than enough of them.

Wow, you made it this far?! Check out my new podcasts page... : )


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