The Truth about the Facts Are…


Facts are Truths?

My ears are ringing with the immortal words of “Joe Friday”, the no non-sense straight laced Los Angeles (LAPD) police detective played by the late Jack Webb saying “Just the facts, ma’am” while writing this post.  Because as a detective, shouldn’t he have been seeking the “truth” as isn’t that the goal of police work, to get to the “truth”?  Ok, a raise of hands, how many people believe that truths are really facts?

At one point, would have to count myself in that camp too however, as it turns out that “Truth” is really only our perception of reality and therefore subject to our own paradigms.  As one can view making a donation to a charitable cause as an investment while another could view the exchange as an expense.  Here both views would be technically correct; however both are shaped by ones personal perspective of the “fact”.  Now you’re asking why is this important to me?

As to be a leader one must operate from a higher level basis of “fact” and not of “truth” which is distorted by various versions of the “facts” if you will.  Also our conscious minds tend to operate with greater clarity when dealing with facts as opposed to truths because there are less encumbrances involved, especially emotional ones.  As our subconscious mind can become fooled by truths because it is unable to distinguish effectively between the two, it doesn’t have the ability to reject ideas and therefore will build paradigms upon these “truths” which will be formed into our behaviors.

However the conscious mind does know the difference and discourse will build between the two minds [conscious and subconscious]    creating a form of cognitive dissonance between the two.  In order to resolve this “mental” dispute, the two will work to form congruency or mediation if you will.  As a case in point,   take cigarette smoking as an example.  Here the “facts” are over whelming after decades of data collection, smoking will kill you plain and simple.  However people still continue to smoke and almost invariably when engaged about this, the smoker will use a “truth” to refute the “fact”.  Many times the “truth” shared with me around smoking is that some third aunt once removed  (the relative reference is typically always a female) that lived to 81 and smoked a pack a day.  Then if they don’t have a relative story, its  normal to point to some media piece they read about a 101 year old man in Thailand (these are typically men and located in Southeast Asia) who again smoked 3 packs a day.

Why cite the male, female and geographical tint of each truth, the answer is simple as we build disconnected models to allow us to justify the facts away by looking at individual [micro] truths and adapt them to [macro] facts.  In short we fool ourselves everyday this way and therefore create our own private false economies.  As have you ever watched that leader you’ve admired hit on all cylinders bating in home run after home run?  They are operating on facts and not truths, however have you also seen the powerful fall (can anyone say Eliot Spitzer)?  It is here the facts started to form truths to them and they faltered from the factual path.  Try this, start out each day by writing down just 5 things you believe are fact and ask yourself are these really facts or are they just truths created by my own or others perceptions?  You will be surprised…

About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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