How to Overcome the Perils of Caring Deeply
The things you deeply care about
make you dangerous and close-minded.
Yesterday, I sat beside a coach who said, “I’m a better coach if I don’t care about the topic of a coaching session.”
When you care deeply:
- Something’s “wrong” with those who don’t care.
- Your methods are “right.”
- Others need fixed.
- Impatience replaces patience.
- Objectivity slips out the door.
Everyone is dangerous somewhere:
- Parents who “know” their children are special.
- Managers consumed with efficiency.
- Leaders driven by moving forward.
- Colleagues dominated by the need to succeed.
- Conductors and musicians obsessed with that perfect sound.
A musician said, “I hate how my guitar sounds through those speakers. Does anyone else notice? No. But I know.”
Stop caring? No!
Organizations move toward mediocrity when they silence those who care deeply.
Pursue your passion or accept irrelevance.
Every initiative, project, department, and product needs a champion who obsessively cares. CEO’s become champions of average when they don’t freakishly care for their organizations.
Excellence is a function of caring deeply.
The real dangers of caring deeply:
- Embarrassed because you care.
- Standing aloof from evaluation and correction.
- Losing sight of the big picture.
- Refusing to listen.
- Not playing well with others.
Leaders and caring deeply:
- Pour gas on flames of passion. Foolish leaders try to control passion in others. A small drop of water from a leader cools and discourages those with passion.
- Teach organizations the power and difficulty of passionate champions.
- Expect those who care deeply to care deeply for others. Rudeness isn’t acceptable.
- Develop cultures where excellence is pursued. Celebrate progress, but, at the same time, reach higher.
- Be prepared for “hurt” feelings. Those who care less get their feelings hurt by those who care more, especially when those who care more are rude.
Accept the challenge and opportunity of leading and releasing those who care deeply.
What are the dangers of caring deeply? Is it possible to care too much?
How can leaders fuel fires without destroying relationships?
Such an important post. I’ve gotten myself in trouble a few times for “caring too deeply” mostly because my passion got in the way. When you care that much, it’s even more critical to watch how that’s showing up. Ensure that you’re leading in a way that advances the cause.
That last sentence really helps all of us who care deeply. Sometimes the cause WE care about becomes the only cause.
Why IS the only cause. Not recognizing that and working with others with why’s connected is where the confusion lies.
When you really think about that isn’t it pretty simple and pretty obvious?
SP back to now!
Dan, good questions.
I do not think that we can care too much, but I think we can demonstrate that caring in inappropriate, ineffective and non-productive ways. Caring for and bout the people you work with is important, but we must be aware of our own emotional quotient as well as theirs. Different gestures of caring mean different things to different people.
The message that we wish to convey is that we care deeply and authentically, but we need to get the work done. The people are important, but so is the work, and relationships should not interfere with our ability to critique people honestly or celebrate themvigorously.
Love your wisdom of taking this conversation toward the ways we show we care. Very helpful.
It always best to come from not knowing.
I don’t know and I could be wrong take us further than I know and I’m right.
This sparked some memories. I’m have gotten in trouble for voicing my concerns or sharing my opinion with passion. Unfortunately, it can easily get misunderstood as aggression, anger, or complaining.
Hence, many give me the “slap” treatment, the politically correct hammer down and then set me free again. I guess I’m suppose to fit a mold or learn quickly that I better learn on my own.
A little negative comment, but this post brought back some learning lessons.
I know EXACTLY where you are coming from.
I’m learning that passion looks like unkindness to some. The challenge I feel is having passion calmly and over-emphasizing kindness even as I advocate for what is “right.” 🙂
I now understand that and look for ways to get there but Lord it would have been a much better experience of a leader would have decoding to properly mentor and coach me.
It took me half a life time to learn this stuff…doh!
Why am I seeing the DiNozzo slap to the back of the head from NCIS? 😉
As a coach, I believe the key is to care most deeply about the person with whom I am working and that coachee’s finding the best answers for him or her. This focus must trump my allegiance to any of my pet concepts, theories or techniques, or to my own desire to impress.
So true…the job of the coach isn’t to fix.
I had the privelege of taking part in that conversation with the coach you quoted to ignite this post. How important it is to keep ourselves in check as leaders. Yes, be passionate. Yes, forge ahead. Yes, encourage. But, we need to be careful that leading does not become a way to move our agenda forward.
Thank you for joining us yesterday! It was an honor to meet and listen to you!
A take-away token I overheard you say yesterday… we need to approach coaching with humility. When that happens, our passion can remain, but our focus becomes clear.
I’m thankful you dropped in today. It was a pleasure spending time with you and the rest of the coaches in the room.
BTW…I say humility is necessary for coaching because I so often feel I am right, which leads to arrogance…one of my favorite qualities. 🙂
I sometimes use “who cares most loses” with my team to illustrate that because we care most, we need to make sure our work is right.
Now they take pride in it, even when they have to pick up slack from another team.
Can you explain? I’m confused.
when there is a task that has to be completed, loose ends to be tied up, who always makes sure it happens. The people who care most.
That means caring most makes us do the extra work to be sure projects succeed.
“who cares most loses” or wins?
yes, but it means more work for my team, they grouse about picking the slack up from other teams sometimes, but this is our small way of admitting we deliver.
1. Losing site of the big picture
2. Becoming so narrowly focused that other important aspects of the project are neglected
3. Not using the “expertise” of your team to help make decisions because you are “crusading”
FUELING FIRES WITHOUT DESTROYING RELATIONSHIPS
1. Share your passion with some trusted members of you inner circle inside the team or who are outside but have a vantage point which allows them to see what is happening. Ask them to hold you accountable and give you feedback if they see you going too extreme. When they do…LISTEN and access and adjust.
2. Continue to check your own pulse against the goals and objectives to be achieved. Am I giving all areas the time, attention focus required? Am I guilt of siphoning the fuel out of other areas to give an advantage to others?
3. My energy is contagious and influential. That’s why its important to maintain balance because you could derail the train (the followers) if you go to far to an extreme and then the whole project suffers.
Passion is great but with passion comes emotional engagement and we have to be careful that our emotions don’t carry us away from what our focus should be such that we overfeed some things and starve others.
Another great post!
And another great comment. thanks Enna.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were an expert at keeping passion focused.
I am a work in progress trying to get better and better. 🙂
Caring is an important component of leadership. When people know you care about them, they usually go the “extra mile” for you. There can be a problem when you care more about the issue/problem/goal more than everyone else. When you care more it can make you seem overzealous, crazy and out of touch. People begin to back away and ignore. Caring is great but a leader must find the right balance…more importantly get the people on the same wave as you.
I’ve been in the crazy, out of touch, group before. It’s frustrating. More importantly, I’ve chosen to be their because passion blinded me. Thanks for adding your insights.
So glad you made the pivot: “Stop caring? No!” Passionate leaders are crucial for high-performing teams. The challenge, as you point out, is balancing your passion with your understanding that everyone’s passion is just a little bit different. EVERYONE is passionate about SOMETHING. Because someone is not as passionate about something as you doesn’t mean he/she is not equally committed to its success.
Tapping into everyone’s passion is one great opportunity and challenge of leadership. Looking around, if I see people without passion, the first place I need to look is me. How have I put the wrong people in the wrong seats? How am I expecting or pressuring people to be like me rather than be like their true selves.
Great challenge, Dan! There are NO people who don’t possess passion for something. I love how you look inside yourself rather than blaming your team.
Well quite a sticky wicket when dealing with spiritual beings having a human experience.
Emotions to the left of me resentments to the right who I am????
Stuck in the middle with me!!!!!!!!!!
Ok want to get folks REACTING????? Stick to principles not personalities. Stick to principles when High Positive emotions are flowing as well as negative ones.
The idea is if the train is coming down the tracks whether you are distracted re-sensing a past glorious success OR regretting, re-sensing a past hurt………………Both equally distract you from getting out of the way of the train.
Think of it like breathing. Breath in, breath out. Think too much, positive or negative breathing stops.
That is why the practice of being in the moment is so on the money. Now ENJOY victories, for a short period of time and back on the beam. Feel huge disappointments and hurts for a short period and back on the beam.
See if I am distracted I miss out of the wonder unfolding right smack dab in front of me.
I just put my doggie to sleep this morning and buried her. I felt the pain and the loss. Then I buried her in the back yard after the trip to the vet. Now I am at work. Looking forward to the quietly desperate people I am fixing to go see and make their day!!!!!!!!!!
Found out last my StepMom needs a second surgery for breast cancer. Found cells in lymph nodes.
So I can take these two things and WALLOW……………OR I can get right back to the moment and make the day of the folks I am fixing to do some work from.
Feeling is GREAT! Re-feeling the same thing over and over SUCKS!
Remember the vinyl records and the needle that played them? Remember when the side was done and the needle would bounce back and forth from the paper on the record and where the grooves were that had the music on them? Ya feelin me?
Remember that dead sound of the needle bouncing back and forth on the area with no grooves and no music? That is what re-sensing is all about! Re-set your needle back to where the beautiful music is!
Or keep re-sensing the past, positive or negative over and over and over. You really just want to be a broken record?
For me Leaders can lead by having their own house in order, PERIOD! Cannot transmit what one does not have. If I got a handful of decaying leafy matter I CANNOT give another person a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut flowers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ok time for me to go recognize the greatness in a couple of people and get their weekend started off right!
Shifterp back to my present! Bless you Pepper, you were dearly loved and will miss ya!
Scott – great post. Live in the present! Sometimes much easier said then done…especially the great memories of the past .
Thanks Chris, just imagine if you had Snookie’s power to read others thoughts when u were in front of them.
Imagine that person was supposed to be your Leader. U got in front of them taking about your project for the company.
The whole time u hear their thoughts about the future and the past but NOT one thought about listening to you standing right in front of them!!!
How authentic would u say that “leader” was? Not what is coming out of their pie hole, their true thoughts.
Now you tell me there is anything more important as a human being, a Leader than being present in the moment.
If you do not have that you are living in Lala land. The past is OVER, the future not here yet!!!
The ONLY place is RIGHT here, the only time is RIGHT now, period.
So you think I am gonna follow any mouth breathing idiot who hasn’t even figured THAT out???
And who else ought to follow a mental midget who hasn’t figured THAT out yet!!!!????
Answer…other mental midgets who have not figured it out yet!!! Lol
In AA they teach us First Things First. Understanding the authenticity of now is the first thing. U mess that up you can’t correct it later!!!! Duh!!!
Anyway thanks for appreciating my appreciation of practicing presence in the moment.
Just imagine if you had a tape recording of the mental midgets for a week!! How could they possibly truly connect when they are not listening to each other in the moment? Truly listening not re sensing the past or future, positive or negative ?
See what I mean? I think you get exactly what I am sharing.
SP back to now, only time there is!!!!
There has to be balance in everyone of you great messages. I feel this topic is maybe one of the hardest, to maintain that balance.
WOW another great one Dan.
Have a great weekend ;o)
Because short posts always leave things out, it’s a great opportunity for those who leave comments to bring balance.
Great weekend to you, too
I hope you did not think that you did not share balance in all you write, I honestly was not saying that.
I think in life this topic is the hardest for people to balance. I think harder than the other areas. Really balance it very hard not matter what. Whew!
Please know I think very highly of all you write. and it was not in anyway a criticism.
Caring and passion are often taken as obstructive to some. Being able to express caring in the right context is critical. It is important to not come off as angry. I have struggled with this in the past and it has gotten me (as CrazyPanamanian stated above) “slapped”. I now try to put myself in the others position so I can state my caring without creating the obstructivism. A learning opportunity. Thanks for bringing this point out into the conversation about leadership.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of leading is having our good intentions taken in the wrong way. I wish good intentions were enough.
Many nonprofit leaders seem to experience founders syndrome/founderitis. Their behavior and passion make it very hard for innovative teams to move forward with projects. It’s important that we recognize when our leaders get stuck in a passionate rut. I will be sharing this post!
You’re nailing an important application of these ideas. They really come into play when you start talking about succession planning and you see the white knuckles gripping their leadership chair.
If there is such a trait/ability as ‘tempered passion’ probably would be an excellent one to develop. Without that tempering, the vision can become obscured or biased and the focus moves more internally than externally. In the throes of passionate belief, we sometimes, admittedly unaware, transition to me rather than we.
Seems the more connections, the more information, the more options, the more stimulus, that often the danger is not over-involved passion, but rather tendency to check out and disengage and not take ownership and accountability.
“Tempered passion” captures the challenge of this topic. On one had the term sounds ridiculous. On the other hand, I believe it!
Interesting post that I can relate to. Sometimes we need to take a step back or stay away.
Wonderful post on a conceptual and practical level.
As leaders we want to avoid the traps from caring too deeply… we also want to nurture caring in followers and help them miss the traps…
My personal challenge is where caring (say about violence against children) leads to the dark side… without Yoda to help… judgment, contempt, hatred…. and all my dignity and power depart…
That energy which can be so harmful needs to be transmuted into compassionate action…
Thanks for starting a great subject.