You need to give a damn what other people think. What other people think matters — a lot. Especially what your customers think. Especially what your wife thinks. We need to always be asking our prospects and our customers what they think. We need to be more curious, more inquisitive, more asking all the time. We need to be constantly enlisting and enrolling people in our Mission, our Purpose, our strategies to help us execute. You better believe we care about what other people think.
If you sit here and exhort, “I don’t care what other people think!” How can you expect to serve your customers well? How can you expect to serve your family well? You can’t. No. Since you don’t give a damn about what other people think, your customer will quickly sense this in your products and services, and then look elsewhere for better customer care.
I’ve said it before on this platform: Care is underrated. There are plenty of people who don’t give a damn at work and it shows. They treat you like your teenager treats you: the too cool for school treatment. The you-don’t-get-it treatment. Yet if you look at the places that take care of their employees first, such as Whole Foods or The Container Store or SalesForce, you’ll find that these are genuinely happy people (for the most part). Work takes care of them first, and therefore they give a damn!
To those who work in a toxic work environment, I feel for you because I’ve been there, too. It ain’ great. Nope. In fact, it is rather awful. You’re right. But that doesn’t mean it has to turn you toxic (though it may already have). We are all products of our various environments and the people we find ourselves surrounded by inside them. Not everybody agrees with the 5 people statement from personal development, but man, is there ever anecdotal evidence to its veracity! (We are the average of the 5 people we hang around with the most.)
Culture falls on leadership. What’s the organizational culture of leadership? How do the top brass treat one another? How do the top brass treat their lieutenants? How do the top brass treat those at the bottom of the totem pole? More telling, are people at the bottom “allowed” to talk to people at the top without the boss knowing? In some orgs, this is an implied no-no, and you may be in for a lashing. That’s exactly what happened at the O.G. Ford Motor Company. In progressive cultures, this is encouraged as it should be. Why? Because great ideas can come from anywhere. Not just the top. In fact, they rarely come from the top. No. Sorry, suits.
We have to ask ourselves who do we want to be today? Who we want to be today determines who we will become today. Who we want to be today is living with intention. And living with intention generates confidence & clarity. I think that’s a quality that a lot of people lack today and they wish they had: living and acting with greater confidence. There is so much self-doubt in the Zeitgeist today. So much uncertainty fomented. So much, “Well, let’s wait and see what happens…” For what? For whom? For how long? Just for how long ought we sit on the sidelines? Until the politicians and economists and pseudo authority figures come knocking on our door, telling us the economy is A-OK now!? That now is our time. They are not coming knocking. No. Nope. They are only here to play chicken little, just like your favorite media.
Again, who do we want to be today…for our families? For our colleagues? For our friends and extended families? Even for the strangers we meet? How far will our generosity extend? How far will our enterprising spirit travel? Will we allow it to flourish even in bad times when it is especially helpful to be enterprising when everyone else feels the chips are down? Will we choose to create and innovate despite being surrounded by the chicken littles? Who will we choose to become?
I don’t think you can create nor innovate well without first giving a damn about your societal contributions. I don’t think you can do anything well at all without first giving that damn upfront.
One of humanity’s gifts to itself is that we’ll often do far more for others than we will for ourselves. (That’s assuming you’re not a sociopath.) That’s why it’s important to ask who needs you today? Who needs you to get in the game and play hard? Who needs you to show up, ready to serve? Who needs you to be courageous and to speak your truth? Why is it necessary that you perform well here? These are not easy questions. They’re designed to be performance prompts to keep you upright and proper and on The Path. Everyone eventually falls off The Path. Question is, will you get back on it?
Along The Path are helpful others. You should help them back. Have their backs the way that good friends do. It ought to be a virtuous circle of people helping one another on The Path. Of people giving to one another freely. Of people being more generous. Of people speaking their truth while the others freely allow it even if they don’t agree. No fomenting of outrage or critical argumentation here. Just freedom to disagree, to agree to disagree. But it all starts with giving that damn about others and their thoughts in the first place.
Look at builders. What if builders didn’t give a damn what other people thought? They likely would not be building for very long. At least, not building for others. A general contractor has to constantly be managing the relationship with the owner. The GC builds on the owner’s behalf. It is the GC’s job to bring people together to build things successfully on time and preferably under budget. Being a GC is all about relationships management. It is a part of their job to give a damn what other people think when building things.
You know who doesn’t give a damn about what other people think or feel? Sociopaths. People who have a complete lack of thought and feeling for their fellow human beings. These are the people who are 100% in it for themselves and their gain. Unfortunately, a lot of them are super smart and tend to float to the top of poor org cultures. Yes, they can even be leaders. But they make piss poor leaders because they’re only in it for themselves, not for the greater good of the org and its people. That, and their actions tend to expose their feather colors rather readily. When you exclaim, “I don’t give a damn about what other people think!” You align yourself with the sociopath. Is that who you want to align yourself with? Is that who you want to mentor you? Is that really what you aspire to become? Someone only in it for themselves?
Give a damn about what other people think. It is the genesis of greatness.