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Fact or Opinion?

Do you really want to know?

Anecdotal

:(of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research (dictionary)

:Based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic, scientific evaluation (dictionary.com)

This word. This word pretty much sums up how I used to see or understand most things, most times.

Lately though (honestly, for a while now), it feels like everywhere I look – videos, books, articles, or any other media – the person is telling me to embrace reality, to understand the difference between facts and opinions, to ask believable people, and to test and find out.

But, you probably realize, as well as I do, that this message is not new. Like most things floating around, you only see them when you’re ready. So, I take this surge in presence as an indication that maybe I’m ready to start looking at things differently.

I follow Cy Wakeman, among many other people that I feel have a productive, honest, legitimate message to hear. She is a drama researcher and does a large amount of work around the ego and leadership based on reality. I laughed in an uncomfortable way when I watched one of her keynotes yesterday. The same way you laugh at a comedian who says something so inappropriate but so funny because you see the realness in it. I saw myself in so many of her examples. I saw the me that gets caught up in the story instead of asking what I know to be true or how I can help.

She told a story of a time when she was at a workshop and the group was instructed to go to dinner, but they were told that they could not say anything that could be considered an opinion or judgment. Hearing her recall all of the thoughts that went through her head and how she realized how much of it was judgment and story, made me realize how often we all do this.

She shared that they only began being able to interact when someone started to share a genuine desire to build a product around a problem he had encountered. The group shifted out of their opinion and judgment minds into helping look for factual, realistic things that they could do to make this other person’s desire happen. The dynamic shifted. Incredible.

Truth Seeker

In Ray Dalio’s book Principles: Life & Work, he shares that one of his secrets to success is to always be looking for the truths – even if they are hard to hear.

The idea of having this kind of ability, mindset, and system is extremely fascinating and scary to me. I haven’t always wanted to know truths. I realize now just how hard I have clung to my “truths” which are mostly my opinions with all of their blind spots.

 

A step in the right direction here is to start looking for truths and asking Cy’s recommended questions of “what do I know to be true here?” and “how can I help?” instead of jumping to “this won’t work”. I also loved Ray’s advice to look for signals that you are holding onto a personal “truth” too hard. The instant anger and emotional reaction that occurs when someone says or does something that conflicts with what you think is a big clue that you are strongly attached to a “truth” and not open-minded to other possibilities.

Where do I start?

So, how do we begin? Cy Wakeman recommends finding other “highly accountable people” to use as your feedback springboard. Ray Dalio recommends looking for “believable people”.

Believable people

Ray Dalio (2017) defines believable people as “those who have repeatedly and successfully accomplished the thing in question – who have a strong track record with at least three successes – and have great explanations of their approach when probed”(pg. 190).

Questions:

I would love to hear responses to these questions in the comments or in private messages.

  1. How do you find or decide which people will give you honest, constructive, and reality-based feedback on something important?
  2. How do you test your own theories, either about a work project, or something else that you are working on?
  3. What criteria do you use to decide who is the best person to ask for feedback or criticism?
  4. How often do you catch yourself sharing opinions more than facts?
  5. Do you think that you are truly open for findings out truths, even if it means being wrong?
  6. Have you ever considered that you could be wrong? How do you find out?
  7. How would you begin to build a network or small group of people to be your sounding board?

Resources

Books

Dalio, Ray (2017). Principles: Life & Work. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster

Wakeman, Cy (2017). No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results. St. Martin’s Press.

Videos

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