Nobody cares about you. I don’t mean your parents, of course they do. And of course your dog. And your significant other, if you have one. Maybe even your kids or your siblings, though there’s no guarantee. And maybe a great friend or two.
No, I’m talking about all the rest. Your work team, your customers, your suppliers, your neighbors, your kids’ teachers, the gang at the gym and at church. The people you spend 85% of your time with, who make up 90% of the entries in your contacts database and 95% of the people in your LinkedIn catalog. 99% of your Facebook and Twitter friends. They don’t really care about you. None of them. Not really.
Basically, the vast majority of human interactions we have are with people who don’t really care about us.
And that, my ‘friends,’ is a wonderful thing. Here’s why.
My Life has Been Very Eventful: Some of It Actually Happened.
For me, almost all the stomach-churning fear and angst I have experienced in my life consisted of fictional plots hatched in the dark places in my own mind. They nearly always featured those 90%-plus people in my life. A huge chunk of my life’s emotional energy was spent on winning fictional arguments and fights with them—though now, finally, I spend a lot less time on that.
If only I could have realized more fully, earlier on in my life, the One Big Truth, how much more productive I could have been! And what is the One Big Truth?
They don’t really give a damn. Any more than I do about them. Oh sure I like interacting with them, most of them, most of the time. And I actually don’t think badly about hardly any of them—they mean well, mostly. It’s just that, I’ve got my own issues to worry about, and I honestly don’t spend that much time focusing on them.
And, surprise surprise, they spend about as much time focused on me as I do focused on them. Which is not a lot. And they probably don’t think any more badly about me than I think badly about them, which is not much. The main thing is: I just think about myself more than I do about them. And they do the same.
The Freedom That Lies in Realizing No One Really Cares
Again, I don’t mean we’re all selfish, mean-spirited people. But I do mean that we’re all pretty much wrapped up in ourselves. And that turns out to be an enormous, high-potential gift.
Because: imagine doubling the quality of attention you show to other people. Not even the quantity—just the quality. No more time—just more connection. What if you could really connect with your customer. Just for two minutes. For two minutes, to engage in a way that is not dominated by your desire to close the deal, to advance the sale, to get them to like you.
What if, for two minutes, you could actually care about them? About how they are feeling, about why they’re thinking what they’re thinking, about how it must feel to be them in that moment.
What if you could offer the fine gift of your attention?
What would happen if someone gave a damn about you for just two minutes? How would it feel?
You Can Radically Improve Lives in Two Minutes a Day
Any time you want, you can stop the noise, get off the Bozo Bus, and reach out and touch someone. All it takes is the gift of your attention.
It seems to me that the reason we don’t give the gift of attention is that we are trapped in the fictional belief that we must gain the approval of others. Thus we are afraid of what they think of us.
The truth is: they can’t think good or ill of us if they’re not even thinking of us at all. Which means we are free—gloriously free—to share our attention. No one else is claiming it.
And if you give it away, you’ll get something back. It’s a universal truth.
Declare the obvious—your own freedom from the myth of others’ judgment. Then go use that freedom to fix your little corner of the world. You might even find that someone cares just a little bit about you.