Leadership Competencies

Honey Badger Don’t Care

HoneyBadgerI was facilitating an executive retreat recently and couldn’t get the team back from lunch. They were in the other room laughing hysterically at a YouTube video called “The Crazy Nasty*** Honey Badger.” (There have been more than 14MM views of this viral video.) An oft-repeated line throughout the video is, “The Honey Badger Don’t Care!”

After watching the intense interest generated by this video, I recalled another executive group of mine that was in tears laughing over a YouTube cartoon video called “iPhone4 vs. HTC Evo,” in which the character seeking to buy an iPhone keeps repeating, “I don’t care to whatever the guy trying to sell her an Evo says. (This video has more than 13MM viewings.)

Yesterday I heard a radio station in Seattle say, “We play what we want. We don’t care.

I am fascinated at the sudden cultural presence and popularity of the “I don’t care” sentiment. I find myself asking “what are these otherwise intelligent, capable, hard working leaders seeing and hearing that makes “I don’t care” so funny? And they are clearly not alone given the number of viewings and TV shows, blogs and columns that reference these videos. It’s just silly humor – however in all humor there is a grain of truth or it wouldn’t be funny. And given the popularity of this “I don’t care” notion it’s something to stop and consider.

As a leader, I’m always looking for early signals of patterns and trends. I want to know what might be developing, what business opportunities might be involved, and how failing to be aware might impact my leadership.

So I’m going to make an assertion. Mark Twain said, “Humor is tragedy plus time.” My assertion is that there is pain and longing (tragedy) reflected in the collective laughter and viral showings of these videos. There is a repressed frustration, perhaps even anger, and a lot of stress out there. People are yearning to say, (perhaps shout), “I DON’T CARE! I WANT WHAT I WANT!” to all the external demands, pressures and unrelenting change they are facing right now.

We live in a extraordinarily stressful time that is demanding agility, flexibility and adaptation to an ever increasing rate of change. For the most part, we are hanging in there and figuring it out, but the “shadow” or opposite side of this is the wish to be able to say, “I don’t care! I want what I want!” I think the extreme examples of this are the political demonstrations and riots we are seeing around the world. At its most basic what’s happening is that people are fed up and they don’t care anymore. They want what they want.

Have you found yourself wanting to yell, “I don’t care!” What are you doing for yourself to release this pressure? If this sentiment is inside of your teams are you creating any release valves for them? Are you ready for the potential revolt if you don’t?


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Dwight Frindt About the Author: Dwight Frindt

“What does it require from a leader to create team member focus, collaboration, and effective action particularly in times of externalities that create tremendous stress?” Such questions have driven Dwi…

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  1. Interesting take on the Honey Badger meme. I think the drive behind “I don’t care” is a reaction against so many things being SO IMPORTANT that likely aren’t. Project manager’s who feel like it’s OK to scream at my team members if a deliverable is late, or political causes that act as if their narrow interest is the only one that matters. Importance and crisis are used so much they has no meaning. So to say “I don’t care” is refreshing.

    Check out the FB group for the Honey Badger, funnies there too! http://www.facebook.com/groups/226249514053890/

    • Dwight Frindt

      August 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm

      It definitely is an expression of relief that speaks to lots of people so I suspect you are right on. Thanks for the FB link.

  2. Dwight, thank you for your insightful post.  What people are really thinking is “stop distracting me with stuff I don’t want or need, stop tempting me, stop giving me too many choices”! 

    This is why having some goals that are measurable is so important to the success of individuals and teams.  It tells us specifically what needs doing, when, and allows us to have an end point.  This decreases the amount of stress due to constant change and motion around us.

    Most people care, both about themselves and others.  Yes, maybe we are less interested in others, or others’ concerns. We still care, and invest ourselves, and want to connect.  Just don’t give us so many confusion choices to consider 24/7.

    • Dwight Frindt

      August 23, 2011 at 1:39 am

      You’ve spotlighted more of the deeper issue. I suspect it’s particularly the distractions of everything from too many emails & texts all day to too many goals, co Stanton directional changes from leadership, high levels of uncertainty…everything but a shared “Yonder Star” with each other… Perhaps Honey Badger is simply an antidote for despair and resignation?

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