In the scheme of life, many consider the word indifference as a way of describing a lack of interest or care. I have come to appreciate that indifference is more than a lack of anything. Indifference is an intentional choice of action.
In the workplace this manifests itself in the ways we embrace the principles and values we profess we hold as a community. For some, values are the starting point of our intent and the actions that follow. For others that are comfortable with indifference, the view is that as long as we follow the letter of the law, we are ok. Intent does not need to be examined. Motives are ok as long as there is strict adherence.
An early definition of profanity was a secular indifference to things spiritual. As I bring this definition in the present, I would expand the concept of profanity to include an individual’s indifference to things community and communal. When one says that “I” trumps community, and that “self” is more important than the common good, then one is indifferent to others and their wellbeing. Both types of action are intentional, even if one is described as the action of neglect.
Great organizations do not tolerate indifference or things profane. They confront and deal with both. Metaphorically the response is consistent with an old command. “Guard your tongue from profanity, and no more lying through your teeth.” (Psalm 34.13)
The lesson that comes with time is that you cannot force someone to be great. S/he must choose and embrace the aspiration. Institutions only become great when those at the heart and soul of the company embrace the aspiration of being great and act accordingly.
Until then, you and I are left with the choice of doing what is right because the action is a statement of caring or being indifferent. I realize there have been times when I have not cared. To those touched by this, my apologies. Today will be different. Hopefully this will not be just a singular moment. May the difference include tomorrow.