Limitless Monday – The power of indifference
Have you noticed that when you are really desperate for something, you rarely get it? That phenomenon applies in many aspects of our lives.
Let’s take a few examples. Say you are fighting for a job promotion; you believe you are doing everything within your power to obtain it. You obsess over it. Then someone else receives the promotion.
That same experience happens in all walks of life: the girl or guy you dream about dating, the exclusive club you wish to join, the deal you want to land, the sale you are eager to make, the dream house you are desperate to purchase.
When you are desperate for something, you rarely end up with it, initially anyway. Cast your mind back to when you were a child, and I am sure there are many instances where disappointment still lives on.
What usually happens is you miss out on the first round, you then go through a period of mourning, then acceptance, and eventually your mind moves on to something else. You still desire what you once obsessed over, but you are calmer about it; you didn’t give up, you just became more accepting of the situation. And then you land the promotion when you are least expecting it.
Sometimes the thing we obsess over is gone for good. Other times it gets delayed. Often it will reappear in a different form. The point here is that obsessing over something rarely ends in you attaining it at the point you most desire it.
By being obsessive, you are trying to control something which in reality you have limited control over. That desperation is obvious to the other party involved, and no one likes a desperate person. If you are a salesperson, and you are desperate to make your commission check, that desperation is on show when you are pitching your prospect. They are unlikely to buy from you.
So, what is the best approach to take to get what you want? Indifference.
I was reading a book the other day about a guy called Sam Bankman-Fried. He founded a cryptocurrency business, which became a massive $8BN fraud.
However, before that happened, his business experienced tremendous growth. Investors were desperate to buy in. Some even asked Sam to name his price.
But Sam didn’t show his desperation. His demeanor was that he didn’t care whether they invested or not. He wanted the money obviously, but only on his terms. That indifference ended with FTX raising $2.2BN in exchange for only a few percentage points of his business.
Indifference isn’t about giving the impression you don’t give a sh*t about life or the particular situation you are involved in. It’s a display of having options. Yes, you are after that promotion, but if you don’t get it, you still have options. You will find another job, a better job, you will start your own business, or you will wait it out.
In fact, you remain obsessed about it, but with indifference. If the girl you believe would be a great match for you doesn’t show any interest, you quickly move on. If she doesn’t see what you see then that is her problem. If you see the house of your dreams, you put in a good offer and someone else trumps you, that isn’t a problem; there are always other houses. You did all you could.
However, here is the thing. Because you are not desperate, you are more likely to land the promotion, sell the product, date the girl, and buy the house. Whilst you have the mindset of indifference, you have a plan b. Also importantly, you did all you could. If you did your best, and you still didn’t achieve your goal, then at least you won’t have regrets.
Many successful entrepreneurs advise us to always be obsessive. They tell us they never have a plan b, that way they have to make their venture succeed. You can still be obsessive and feel indifference about the outcome.
Take the founder of Nike, Phil Knight. He obsessed about his business. However, he accepted that if it failed he would find something else to do, and as a result of the failure, would learn some valuable lessons for his next venture. That thinking probably helped him succeed. It didn’t stop him from obsessing.
This brings me on to how to influence people. Let’s say your boss tells you that he believes you are not capable of performing a certain job. Rather than fight with him and explain why he is wrong, you choose to take a different approach. A counterintuitive one.
You tell him he is probably right. You accept his or her judgment. Reluctantly. But you leave him with a pertinent thought which is likely to sink in. Rather than hit him with 100 thoughts, only one is required. ‘I totally understand. I don’t agree, but I understand. Good luck.’
Then move on. That is hard to do, as it goes against most of our natural instinct to fight back. But you are not giving up. Not in the slightest. Sit back and wait, and see what happens.
I think you will find that you will end up getting what you wanted. Have you noticed that many of the best events and possessions in your life came out of the blue? You got the job you always wanted, but not how and when you were expecting it. That’s the power of indifference in action.
I have used this technique so many times, and it works. If I show desperation, it is very unlikely I will get what I want.
It has worked on deals I wanted to close, dream houses I wanted to buy, people I wanted to persuade.
Indifference, however, doesn’t mean you don’t give a sh*t about the outcome. You still visualize living in that house, performing that job, dating that girl, or counting all that money you made from that deal, but you are relaxed about the outcome.
There will always be other deals, other houses, and other jobs. The important thing is not to have regrets. If you applied for a dream job where you possess none of the relevant qualifications or experience, you would be mad to feel disappointment when you don’t hear back. On the other hand if you had the required experience and qualifications, performed fantastically at the interview, and still didn’t land the job, regret should be the last thing you feel, too. If you feel indifference, expect a call down the line about the same job or an even better one. All is never lost.
Trying to control something you have limited control over is a waste of precious energy and time. Nurture indifference with obsession, and banish desperation.
Begging someone for something which you believe is essential to your very existence is easy to do. However, desperation displayed in the ask as well as your actions is going to push what you desire further from your reach. Starting today, embrace indifference when you want something, and watch as opportunities start falling into your lap.
Banner Image: Desperation. Image Credit – floede