Replacing confusion with wisdom


I love good guitar music. In fact, I’ve often thought of getting a guitar and learning to play. I have had this notion for many years. The problem is… I like to do other things too much. Playing the guitar well takes thousands of hours of practice and dedication. You see, I have the desire to play, but lack the determination. You can have all the desire in the world, but if you do not put that desire into action, you have gained nothing. Don’t confuse desire with determination.

People often get confused about basic concepts. Someone once said, “Don’t confuse effort with results.” This essentially means that some people always look busy, but, at the end of the day, their work product doesn’t measure up. We need to focus more on actual results than the “appearance” of work.

I have accumulated a few other similar concepts that can be confusing, if not fully understood. Let’s look at a few:

  • Don’t confuse words with actions – Promises, commitments, and intent is easy to express with words. But, these words do not always turn into actions. Unless we put real effort to our words, they are empty and meaningless.
  • Don’t confuse a boss with a leader – Leadership results from commitment, service, vision, and collaboration… not from a title. Real leaders don’t need a title to get things done.
  • Don’t confuse compliments with the truth – Everyone likes to be stroked with words. However, there are times when we need to hear the unvarnished truth from others. We rarely improve when we always hears positives. Truthful feedback is often the very thing we need to rise to the next level.
  • Don’t confuse a meeting with progress – I have frequently seen “progress reports” that state something like this, “A meeting was held to discuss next steps.” This comment is usually inserted simply because no other real progress has occurred. A meeting that generates real progress is much different than one that occurs simply to “kick the can down the road.”
  • Don’t confuse a title with authority – People often believe that a person with the right title has the authority to get things done. Not necessarily true! The real authority or individual with the power to accomplish something often is unexpected or at a level much lower than you might imagine.
  • Don’t confuse money with happiness – Financial strength does not correlate well with overall happiness. A lack of money can be life-limiting, but true happiness is more a function of attitude and contentment than it is financial success.
  • Don’t confuse connections with friendships – In today’s world, we tend to accumulate and value connections or our network. However, when you begin valuing connections more than relationships or friendships, you lose a significant opportunity in life. We all need to take the time to grow and nurture these true relationships.
  • Don’t confuse cost with quality – There is a tendency to believe that you always “get what you pay for.” This is not always true. Taking the time to truly investigate investments can help ensure that you get value or quality rather than simply a name brand.
  • Don’t confuse a successful regulatory inspection with a strong compliance position – For those of us working in FDA/Global-regulated industries, there is a tendency, especially with top management, to believe that a good regulatory inspection equates to a strong compliance posture. Not necessarily true! Nor is the reverse… a difficult inspection does not mean you lack a strong commitment to compliance. ¬†Compliance requires a long, consistent dedication to doing the right things day-after-day. There is no short-cut. And, one good inspection doesn’t necessarily mean that you have conquered compliance risk.
  • Don’t confuse credentials with ability – There is a great temptation, when looking at resumes, to make assumptions based on the credentials/experience provided. However, I think we can all relate that great credentials do not necessarily correlate with ability. Let’s avoid the trap of making quick judgments and look deeper… look for evidence of value and results that can make a difference long-term.
  • Don’t confuse silence with concurrence – When dealing with issues and teams, we often are tempted to assume that silence, or lack of disagreement, means that concurrence has been achieved. In fact, the exact opposite may be the case. Some individuals are reluctant to voice disunity, especially when they are in the vast minority. Seeking input from those that appear to be silent may reveal input that is sorely needed and lacking.

I could go on and on with additional examples. But, let’s stop for now. So, the take-away for today is this… take the time to fully consider what you see and what you get. Unless you look beyond the surface of people, events, and actions, you might miss the real point or value. We must stop taking the easy way out and look beyond the obvious. Only then, can we eliminate the confusion that can come otherwise. Let’s pause to seek wisdom that can allow us to be better and do better than we would have otherwise.

Have a great day!

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