What Stories Do You Believe?
To stay on top of the game in business and in life, you have to be able to make good decisions.
I suspect that has been different for every generation, but I cannot imagine any period in history when it has been harder than right now.
That is because on every subject, we are all exposed to so many stories, and all of these stories sound convincing, that we wind up not quite sure who to believe, not confident that we have all the facts, and therefore undecided about the best course of action.
This can be crippling to you and your business if it is not checked.
I wrestled with this a great deal over the years in all aspects of my life.
We hear all the voices: Eat this diet, it will keep you healthy and slim. Join this gym and watch your body emerge toned and strong. Invest in this stock and watch the money add up. Go and see so and so and he or she will give you the best financial advice you will ever get. Start your business this way. Grow your business that way.
I don’t have a magic eraser to wipe out the tricksters and fraudsters and ensure that I never believe the wrong story.
But I do have a great book that has helped me to devise a way to determine which story is likely authentic, and which one is likely a scam. It’s close enough to work for me.
The book is Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
Sagan, an incredible thinker and writer right up until his death in 1996, write the book to help all of us who struggle to find truth in a world that has made propaganda an art form.
One of my favorite chapters in this book is entitled simply “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection.”
Dissecting the kind of “kit” scientists use to pinpoint and assess the truth, Sagan reminds us to have so-called facts independently confirmed, not to be over-swayed by arguments made by authorities since even they can be wrong, and to consider more than one hypothesis in any given situation.
That has been my most valuable tool in business. I look at the hypothesis that is being presented to me by someone else. Then I consider that if it is not true, what would truth look like? What other hypothesis would perhaps also work and how would I go about proving that?
It is not an issue if my new hypothesis does not work. It merely makes me more comfortable believing that the new one I am buying into is going to be okay.
Sagan points out that if you are following the chain of an argument, every link in that chain has to work, including the original premise. Don’t buy it if most of them work because it means that ultimately your strategy will be weakened by those unworkable foundation steps.
Sagan, like many other thinkers, also suggest you keep Occam’s Razor in your tool kit to detect what is truth and what is baloney.
This is a basic problem-solving principle attributed to an English Franciscan friar William of Ockham (1287-1347).
The essence of it is that the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Eliminate the unnecessary. If two hypotheses can be proven correct, select the easiest one to implement.
Sometimes we complicate our decision-making process unnecessarily through buying the gilded explanation that is more complicated and expensive, when the basic, simple version will work equally well.
Paula Morand is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and impact in a more bold fashion. 24 years, 27,000 clients, 34 countries, 15 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.Check out Paula’s best selling books: “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything”, “Dreaming BIG and Being BOLD: Inspiring stories from Trailblazers, Visionaries and Change Makers” book series; and due to be released soon “Bold Vision: A Leader’s Playbook for Managing Growth” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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