This post is primarily written for me. It’s for me to explore my thinking and to get greater clarity. Normally, I would not publish something so introspective, but I think I’m asking for help. I’d really appreciate your feedback and ideas.
It’s been something that’s been bothering me for some time, but I haven’t been able to articulate it.
Regular readers know I go through alternating phases of being very optimistic about the future of our profession and the hope that I carry for the impact we can have with our customers, our companies, our peers, and our communities.
At the same time, I write, perhaps too often about the rampant stupidity I see in so much of what we do in selling. I’m obnoxious and tough on much of what I see. Yet underlying this criticism it the deeply held belief we can move past it. Through my career, I’ve seen continued improvement, and I believe this for the future.
But, I am impatient, hoping we can move more aggressively. Frustrated with the possibilities I see, but impatient with our pace in realizing them.
Then the other day, I was speaking with someone I consider to be both a friend and mentor, Lahat Tzvi. We speak monthly (it’s one of the the highlights of my month.). We were talking about the continued state of decline in our profession.
Then at one point he asked me a question, “Why do you care so much?”
All of a sudden, in that question, he articulated the issue that, I think, has been bothering me so much. His articulation to this stunned me. I didn’t have an answer.
Lahat let the silence continue for a few moments, and he repeated the question, “Why do you care so much?”
I discovered I didn’t know how to reply.
As we discussed it, I started talking, without answering the question. I rambled:
- I’ve always been driven to achieve, to be the best—even though I’m more frequently not the best….
- Regardless, what I do, I’m driven to get better….
- I am driven by constant learning and continually improving. I referenced the article I wrote years ago, Obsessive Learning–Relentless Execution. I said that had become a personal mantra…
- As a leader and consultant, I’ve not only held high expectations about my own performance, and about those with whom I work. I firmly believe, together we can accomplish such great things–and things that can be very important.
- I’ve always been driven by the concept of “Making A Difference.” I want to have an impact, to make a difference–perhaps for an individual, perhaps for some groups of people. I have been driven by making a difference for our profession, thinking about the impact on our customers, our organizations and each other…
- I’ve always been driven by the vision of what could be…..
- I’ve always been somewhat idealistic and often tend to tilt at windmills…..
Lahat was patient with my rambling, then asked: “Why do you care so much?”
Again, he forced me to stop, to reflect. Finally, I said, “I can’t imagine not caring! It is completely unacceptable to me!”
But I’m still left with the question. I don’t have an answer to the question. I wonder that perhaps I care too much. Somehow, that doesn’t seem acceptable.
I question, “Why should I care? I make a great living, I have a great life, I have wonderful friends. Why should I care?”
I’d like some help from you. I’ll generalize the questions, but perhaps in the conversation, I can learn and develop answers for myself.
- We know caring is important, but why should we care so much, so intensely?
- Is it possible to care too much, should we lighten up?
- Are we expressing some arrogance in caring too much?
- Are we expressing naivete in caring too much?
- Why does caring so much seem to be so unusual? And possibly, how do we get others to care?
The more I reflect, I think my “excessive caring” is driven my my optimism–about people, about our profession, about possibilities. I’ve been privileged to see great people and great organizations achieve great things. I keep imagining, “What if more people behaved this way. Imagine what we can achieve!”
But, as Jill Konrath suggested, sometimes I let my impatience overshadow my optimism. I need to learn how to be more patiently impatient.
I’m sure there are a lot of other questions. But your ideas will really be helpful to me, as I struggle with this question. If you prefer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call me. Perhaps more importantly let’s start a conversation in the comments to this post or in LinkedIn.
Thank you, in advance, for your help. This is important to me.
And finally, I am so deeply grateful some close friends who have been talking with me about this. Huge thanks to Lahat, Anthony Iannarino, Brent Adamson, and Jill Konrath—each cares deeply about what “we,” collectively do and can achieve.