Apathy is the Enemy of Awesome

Why good work requires you to care.

Guest Authors Nancy Lyons and Meghan Wilker 3.05.2012

Over the past year, we’ve been working on a book. As we’ve written, re-written, edited, read, re-read and re-phrased every word, one of the lines we wrote has been sticking with us, “Apathy is the enemy of awesome.”

Think about it until you agree.

To do good work, especially good creative work, you must care. About the people you work with, the work that you’re doing, and the people you're doing it for. If you don't, the work will suffer.

The key to caring (and in inspiring others to care about you, too) is really about developing a clear sense of emotional intelligence.

Don’t get defensive. Think about situations from the other person’s perspective. Listen. Really listen, and respond neutrally. Open dialogue leads to trust. It’s a short trip from trust to care.

Be aware of yourself, and your surroundings. This is also known as “reading the room.” Watch body language, be attentive to others’ responses and adjust your approach as needed.

Set clear expectations. Be clear about what you need. Allow others to be clear with you (see: Don’t get defensive). Don’t assume that others know what you expect.

Be trustworthy. Keep your promises. Deliver on what you have agreed to, or renegotiate the agreement. This is as important for lunch dates as it is for client contracts.

Acknowledge others. Offer credit to others before you take it for yourself. Do this both publicly and privately.

These kind of human-centered behaviors help create an environment in which good work, and not apathy, thrive.

Nancy Lyons (@Nylons) works at the intersection of technology, community, and people. She empowers and motivates teams of technologists and creatives as the President and CEO of Clockwork Active Media. Meghan Wilker (@irishgirl) specializes in using strategy, technology, and process to bring people and products together. As VP, Managing Director at Clockwork Active Media she drives projects to produce engaging digital solutions. Together they’re the Geek Girls Guide, dedicated to demystifying technology for audiences everywhere through public speaking, writing, and online dialogue. They are co-authors of Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process.

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