Most people would define the truth, or what is true, as verified or proven fact. However, more often than not, our truth is based not on proven facts, but on what we perceive it to be. Further we will behave not to an objective verified reality, but to our perception of that reality. It is for this reason that what it is ‘true’ to us might in fact be false, skewed or altered.
According to a recent Gallop poll, 52% of Americans think China is the world’s leading economic power. Only 32% think that the US is leading. When they last polled the same question in 2009, it was a virtual tie.
The fact is that the US is the world’s largest economy by far. Accordinhg to the International Monetary Fund our gross domestic product in 2010 was $14.62 trillion. While China did overtake Japan as the world’s second largest economy last year, The IMF reports China’s 2010 GDP was $5.75 trillion.
So what’s more important—facts (what is true) or beliefs?
So what’s more important—facts or beliefs? A recent University of Michigan study showed that Americans are more likely to disregard facts when they go against their preconceived notions. So what’s the big deal? The fact is that we as humans more often than not behave to what we believe to be true as opposed to what is actually (factually) true. We make decisions based on our beliefs. We take action based on our beliefs. We selectively accept facts as true as they fit (or don’t fit) our beliefs. The rest we manage to ignore. Facts be damned!
How do you think this affects you on a day-to-day basis at work or in your personal life? Here’s a little indicator: How many times were you sure you were right about a person, event or incident, and your sureness actually blinded you to the truth? In other words, you were surprised when you were shown to be wrong about something. Imagine how crippling this practice could be for a business, operating under certain assumptions about how their customers perceive them, for example, and then a customer service survey reveals their assumptions (that form their subsequent actions) were completely off base.
How many times were you sure you were right about a person, event or incident, and your sureness actually blinded you to the truth?
The fact is that we as humans more often than not behave to what we believe to be true as opposed to what is actually (factually) true.
Hopefully understanding this aspect of our human nature will help you consider being a bit more interested in open-minded exploration of all the facts before you decide what is actually true.
I’m fortunate enough to be a consultant who constantly asks questions of my clients in order to discern fact from fiction – considering this process can make or break a business. And I would suggest that this elevation of awareness of how we process information in order to make decisions and act upon them ultimately improves our quality of life. I encourage you to focus on trying it this week and see what this open-mindedness might open up for you.
© Joe Caruso, Caruso Leadership