October 15, 2008

Do They Care? Should We Care?

Someone much more cynical than me once coined the phrase “no one cares more about you, than you”. We all have friends and family and close colleagues, but other than that who really cares about us?

I have found some wonderful new friends through social media and those friendships and business connections have grown my personal network of people I care about. I’m sure you have too. The electronic way we all connect has given us the chance to meet people we would have otherwise never met.

But let’s do some rough math. There are approximately 6.7 billion on the planet and if we’re lucky we each have a handful of people who truly care about us and want us to do well. And vice-versa.

This doesn’t mean the rest wish us ill or harm, they simply don’t have that kind of time. People are busy. They are busy worrying about their lives and so are you.

It’s interesting to note how much we as enlightened humans care about what others think of us. That makes us compassionate but it also makes us borderline neurotic. If you have ever lost your job or changed companies, or shifted industries, the cliché is true – you find out who your friends are. Blame proximity, but people move on. And so do you.

This experiment gets even more interesting in business because we have gotten to a point where the degree on your wall or what you did in the past means less and less.

But what we should deem more important is how fast we can think on our feet, how creative we are with our minds, how well we can adapt, communicate and share.

StumbleUpon conducted a behavioral study last year. After gathering the data, they split up the sample of 1,000 people into five categories; Happy-Go-Luckys, Purists, Emotionals, Owners and Destroyers.

The Happy-Go-Luckys were the group that sifted through pages quickly but didn't stop to make negative comments because - as it said in the report; "There is enough negativity sapping the world so there was just no need to add more." This is a group that didn't care what others said about them nor felt it was necessary to make negative comments without reason. Benign behavior not vindictive. Remember that the next time someone fails to return an email - it may not mean anything.

The more we worry about what others think of us and what they think of our ideas, the more we dismiss those ideas and who we are. And hence stifle our growth.

The brilliant Sir Ken Robinson explains it much better than me when he discusses education and creativity. If you haven’t watched this TEDTalk it’s twenty minutes well spent.

km

 
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