To Give A Shit Or Not To Give A Shit? A Chronological Guide

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Boy, do we love the people who don’t care what other people think. The ones who throw caution to the wind and a middle finger to the world. The ones who aren’t burdened by the lead-filled social woes that are injected into the soles of a lesser man’s shoe.

Just google “songs about not caring what people think” or “quotes about not caring what people think” and you’ll see what I mean.

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out? – Dr. Seuss
Life is too short to be distracted by the opinions of others. – Russell Edson
You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations. – Stevie Wonder
I used to give a fuck, now I give a fuck less. – Jay-Z
I don’t care. I love it. – Icona Pop
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Suess (That’s right. I quoted the good doctor twice)

This is most certainly the kind of thinking you need when writing a new chapter in your life or trying to find your own voice and your own story. You’re never going to climb that mountain, leave the job or ditch that boyfriend if you first don’t value the you you are trying to become. In fact, just read Julien Smith’s post: The Complete Guide To Not Giving A Fuck if you want to read a stellar self-realization and self-actualization post.

But Julien (and anyone else worth his/her weight in salt) is not advising you that you care less overall. Your job is to shift your care, to adjust the direction of your energy. Take it from the people who don’t matter, to the people that do.

In fact he says it in his post, “You need to realize that the people who do care about you, and no one else, are those you need to focus on.”

So How Does This Work For Entrepreneurs?

Going through this emotional change is hard enough on its own. Julien mentions how he lived 31 years of his life caring too much what other people thought. I can relate. I’m sure some of you can too. Sometimes it’s that hard.

And the entrepreneur needs to do this metamorphosis TWICE, before s/he sees a dime.

I’ll explain.

Entrepreneurs are insane.

According to the HBR – 95% of business fail to reach their projections. It drops to 70-80% if we are talking about an inadequate return on investment. But whaddya know? People keep starting businesses.

So in order to even have a chance at success, it would seem that you first have to go against the grain and be thick-headed enough to believe that you actually can succeed.

To do this, you need to get medieval on caring what certain people will think or say about you. (Metamorphosis #1)

But the I-don’t-give-a-damn personal explosion needs to be immediately buttressed with the please-tell-me-what-you-think customer cradle (Metamorphosis #2).

Because if you have too much “I don’t give a damn” sauce in your business soup, people will think you’re a prick and they won’t trust you. So you need maverick thinking on one hand and on the other, you unequivocally need to give a whole lot of shits what your potential customers think, what they are willing to do, and what they want.

This is NOT a simple choreography. This is schizophrenic jiu jitsu.

You can’t care what everyone thinks and expect to be malleable enough to be unique, but you can’t care so little that you are deaf to feedback.

Herein lies the great paradox of entrepreneurship.

How do you tune out the ones that don’t matter with the same emotional toolset that has to amplify the ones that do?

And how do you prevent your ears from bleeding (see: take it personally) when the amplified feedback comes in from those you seek out?

While that marinates, let’s summarize The Entrepreneur’s Chronological Guide To Giving A Shit.

Step 1 – Caring very much about your idea (prerequisite)
Step 2 – Not caring what the “insignificants” think about your idea (Metamorphosis #1)
Step 3 – Caring even more what your inner circle and potential client thinks about your idea (Metamorphosis #2)
Step 4 – Not confusing the rejection of your idea as a rejection of you as a person (Hard for us non-cyborgs)

If you are on Step 3 but you fully haven’t embraced Step 2, you’re going to be an emotional basket case. If you never get past Step 2, you’re going to be a cynical head case.

That is why you first have to give less of a shit what certain people think. But understand that right behind that is you caring even more what other people think.

Couldn’t care less and then couldn’t care more. That’s the job of an entrepreneur.