I’m learning this lesson everyday. Caring is an attitude I take towards the world when I’m at my best. When I’m at my worst—when I’m deeply disengaged—there’s a pretty strong chance that I also don’t care about what’s happening. Caring engages me with the machinery of the moment. In any moment, especially when working and being with others—whether it’s a meeting, or a critical point in a project, or sitting at the dinner table with my family—the moment is tanking (or on its way to tanking) if I’m unable to care about what’s happening.
But if I’m able to remember in the moment “oh yeah… care about this,” it’s as if the room changes colour from pallid pastels and greys to vibrant colours and contours. Suddenly, I am engaged with the moment. Once I care, everything gets better (even if it was already pretty good). Once I care, even really difficult situations become necessary milestones along the journey towards constructive collaboration, towards familial love, towards being and working together.
Whenever I’m disengaged, I try to ask myself: “Why are you doing what you’re doing if you don’t actually care? If you don’t care, stop and ask yourself: what do you want out of your life?”
Regardless of what you believe will happen after you die, you can be certain that this “life” part of the story (or the whole story) has an end. We all get this. Most of us have had a friend or family member who came to an untimely end. Stick with that certainty and its lessons. Don’t let what you believe excuse carelessness during this window of time called life. Whether you believe that life is all there is, or that life is just a chapter—care.
The risk of not caring because of what you believe does, or doesn’t happen after death is the biggest wager to take. Forget the risky business of the entrepreneur, it pales in comparison to the passive risk that we mindlessly take when we let our beliefs get in the way of our ability to give a damn about this world, its relationships, your part in it, etc. We misrepresent this risk to ourselves as “acceptable” because we may believe life is just one part of a longer story, or we believe we’ve got a lot of time to kill. Stick with the certainty: death chooses when to really kill time. If you’re killing time, you’ve forgotten that it’s not for you to do.
So, care. Care about the work you are doing. Care about the relationships you are in. Care about where this is all headed. Care about your story and where you are at in it. Care that you are here. Care about the loved ones in your life. Care about that project you are working on in your spare time. Care about the assignment you have. Care.
(If you’re starting in the middle on this series, start here for a bit of context)