Saturday, September 17, 2016

Observant

Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted, "Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see."  I suspect old Ben, in this age of edited text/audio/video, might even modify that "half" admonition toward zero.  

The essence of Franklin's point, however still stands:  We err greatly in relying solely on the anecdotal reporting of others when making consequential decisions.  While it has always been the case that pervasively collecting data (in written form, in spoken form, in observed form) helps inform good decision making, it has never been truer that we should approach "reported" data with a highly skeptical ear/eye/brain.

Reporting is ALWAYS biased, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes with malice of forethought.  That is true historically, and perhaps, never truer than today. 

So, how do we make substantive decisions, for ourselves, for our families, for our organizations?  Of course we should research.  Of course we should listen.  Of course we should analyze data.  Yet, nothing can substitute for real, in-the-now, fully present observation.  Not just passing observation, but intense, critical, and skeptical observation of the evidence/conditions/circumstances.  It matters not whether we're talking about our personal health, the stock market, our planet, customer satisfaction, or political machinations.  

Rarely does such intentional observation paint for us a clear and irrefutable picture, quite often the contrary.  Yet, to rely solely on the reporting of the others (in its myriad forms) is to abdicate a fundamental (and perhaps moral) responsibility to "see for ourselves."

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