If you ever find yourself wondering where the heck the bold creative spirit of your organization disappeared, then check the level of indifference during meetings, project discussions or strategy development sessions.
Indifference is one of those (yes, there is more than one!) silent killers of character, (brand) identity and, above all, creativity. Why? Because all three of them require taking a risk, taking a stand and making a statement. That, in its turn, requires taking responsibility for our beliefs, words, actions and the consequences ensuing from them.
The consequences are the most fascinating part. If you have seen Barry Schwartz’s Ted Talk, you know what I mean by 'paradox of choice': we are free to make choices but we are always bound to the consequences, for better or worse. A choice is by its own nature a statement that puts us, even for a while, notoriously or famously, in the spotlight. And yes, this can be quite uncomfortable.
The easy option, of course, is to remain indifferent, anonymous and silent and put up with the circumstances as they are. Sit out the useless meeting, then sheepishly agree with everyone that it was a good discussion. Keep working for a company that we hate or don’t believe in. Trade time, our most precious commodity, for money without feeling fulfilled, obediently telling ourselves that life is supposed to be that way. Outside the spotlight and well within the borders of our comfort zone. Unfortunately, every time we refuse to get involved in a final decision or speak out about our mind, we give away our freedom to co-create a different, and possibly, better outcomes.
It’s ever so easy to play it safe, present the options indifferently and let the somebody else (the customer, the manager, etc.) make the choice, as it often happens in consulting businesses. The scary stuff comes when we’re asked to have an opinion and choose definitively. But then again, in order to convince others, we first have to convince ourselves. So what do we truly believe in? What do we stand for as people and professionals? How much do we care? How well do we understand the options? Can we admit that we don’t know enough yet? What do we need in order to make that choice intelligently?
Most importantly, gun to our head, what would we choose to do if we owned the compnay and we were in the shoes of our customers, our team leads, our managers or our CEO? (Did you think for a moment how thankful you are for not actually standing in their shoes right now….) Confronting, isn’t it?
Yet no business worth contributing to has ever been born out of indifference or caution. No brand worth loving and following either. Ideas that can’t be ignored, rely on somebody’s bold creativity and faith in their value to the world. Or even more, they rely on somebody’s boldness to refuse to remain indifferent when faced with a challenge or a dilemma. Bold doesn’t necessarily equal loud and extrovert. It rather implies professionalism, quiet confidence and courage to interrupt, disrupt and speak up. Even when it’s scary and especially when it’s noisiest and most uncomfortable.
Unlearn indifference by choosing to make a difference wherever you are. Thank you.