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Daily Leadership Thought #178 – Get Informed

July 21, 2011

Get Informed — Lifeline Blood Services

We all need to work on being better informed. There is no shortage of people who are unhappy with our government or political process these days, but very few of us do anything about it.  It is much easier to complain and assume that one party has all the answers or not.  In addition, instead of doing some research and using fact-based arguments, we prefer to have strong opinions based on the rhetoric and propaganda of ill-informed media personalities.   Sadly, it seems as we age, we spend most of our time trying to validate and support what we want to believe rather than being open to alternative points of view and different answers.

It never ceases to amaze me how far too many voters will unwittingly vote against their own self-interest because they haven’t taken the time to think through their decisions.  Democracy is demanding work and requires the participation of the citizenry.  There are no shortcuts that will change this reality.  If our citizens fail to become informed and participate in the process, moneyed interests will always win.   There is nothing wrong with interest groups, corporations or wealthy individuals advocating a particular point of view – it is their right to do so.   However, just because they spend money or take a strong position doesn’t mean they are right.  The only way to know if their positions are sound or not is to do some research and test them against the facts.  For example, cutting taxes doesn’t always create jobs – sometimes it has but sometimes it hasn’t.  What have been the other mitigating factors that led to this outcome?

In my experience some tension and debate around important decisions is always a good thing.  We want people to challenge each other and advocate for distinct positions.  However, when most of the energy is spent demonizing the other side and taking potshots at their leaders, we have lost sight of the purpose of the dialogue in the first place.  It is much easier to criticize someone else rather than defending and supporting our own position.   Logic and facts still matter – now more than ever as we are involved in three separate military conflicts and have an economic model that no longer seems to work.  We do ourselves and our country a disservice when we elevate individuals and organizations to pedestals that are undeserving of our attention and respect.

It is much better to do your own homework and think for yourself.  And, true learning always takes place when you are forced to confront reality and challenge what you think you already know.  It also means you must spend time learning and becoming better informed. If you choose not to do this, then don’t be surprised if you end up unhappy with the results.