Like it or not, our desires don’t change the facts

Today, we look at another of Aesop’s fables to start the conversation:

The Fox and the Grapes

One hot summer’s day, a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch.  “Just the thing to quench my thirst,” quoth he.  Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch.  Turning around again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success.  Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but, at last, had to give it up.  Walking away with his nose in the air, he said, “I am sure they are sour.”

The classical moral attributed to this story is: It is easy to despise what you cannot get.  Certainly, the Fox changed his attitude as soon as he realized the grapes were out of reach.  He went from great desire to disdain in a moment.  We certainly assume this attitude at times.  However, I think there is another moral to this story that we often avoid discussing: The facts don’t change simply because we don’t like them.  As much as we would like our favorite team to win the game, our desires don’t change the fact that they lost.  Simply because a politician makes a statement does not make it true.  This is why there are so many “fact checkers” that dispute what is said by these individuals.

We must be cautious about separating fact from fiction… fact from our desires.  This can become a problem in many ways… let’s look at a few examples:

  1. “Because my manager does not like bad news, I will ‘spin’ the facts to ensure that he/she only hears the good stuff.”
  2. “I don’t like that root cause.  Go back and keep looking until we find something that will allow us to go forward.”
  3. “Is there any way to adjust that chart to make our trends look any better.”
  4. “Let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good story.”
  5. “I know what the numbers say.  But, it just doesn’t feel right.”
  6. “This is the number I would like to report.  Can you use that as a start and work the details on the back end?”

Have you ever experienced any of these or anything similar?  Probably, most of us have seen something like this… at another prior company, of course.  When I have heard something like this, it was disappointing.  The person suggesting any of these approaches is either downplaying or ignoring the facts in a way that could be harmful.

So, what do you say when you are faced with a situation like this?  Do you react with boldness and say, “Actually, we need to base our decisions on the facts.  Let’s look at the real numbers/results together and ensure that we’re telling the right story.”  Or, do you simply bow your head and comply?  We need to deal with these situations with courage.

I can give a number of examples during my career where, because someone acted with boldness and based their decisions on facts, the company was spared significant problems or embarrassment or, potentially, the loss of money, reputation, or customers. Here is a new quote seen the first time ever right here today,

Ignoring the facts for short-term gain will almost always bring long-term pain.”

Let’s not react like the Fox and walk away from the facts, let’s be open and honest and realize that, despite our desires, we need to base our actions on them.

Thanks for all you do.  Have a smashing day!

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