Accuracy is your friend.
This is the mantra I’ve been trying to plant firmly in my kids minds for the last few years.
Last weekend the kids and I were going to one of their practices. We were running pretty late, and one of the kids was trying to figure out if he had time to make a snack before we left. I told him which gym we were going to and that it was about 15 minutes from our house. We figured, yep, we had a minute he could use to microwave his corndog.
We got to the school gym almost on time only to realize we didn’t recognize anyone there. I reached for my phone and found an email saying the practice location was going to be at another school (one right by our house!). Shoot! We rushed back to the car, a bit flustered, realizing we’d miss a good part of the practice trying to get back to the right gym.
One of the kids started joking around, “We all asked like ten times is it really at (the school we wrongly went to)?? Is it really there? Are you sure Mom. And you were so sure!”
It took me a second, but then I realized this mess up was being reimagined. With me as the bad guy.
“Wait, what? Are you serious?” I asked.
“Yeah!” this kid replied.
I got a little annoyed.
“No. No. Absolutely not. One time we talked about the school. One time. Not ten. And no one asked if the practice was really there or not. No one thought it was somewhere else. We talked about it only in the context of how far away we were driving and how much time we had before we left. No. Heck no. That is not what happened. Truth matters, child. Accuracy is your friend.”
Did I over react? Maybe. If the reimagining had been the real truth and if I really had insisted and then learned I was actually wrong I would take my knocks, I swear it. But reimagining the last hour as a good guys/bad guy scenario where everyone collectively tried to show me I was wrong but I just wouldn’t listen? No. Truth matters and that wasn’t the truth.
The entire conversation was a minor detail in the scheme of the weekend, but it struck me as oddly important, huge even, in the wake of all the political craziness that’s been filling the news. I’ve been struck especially by the plethora of bad information – on all sides. There seem to be opposing narratives based on assumptions and a lack of pursuit of accurate facts. That is not to say that neither side has any factual point – that is not my meaning at all. However, we as a nation seem rather comfortable with broad statements and assumptions made from them. The drive for accuracy seems to be easily forgotten.
In coaching & consulting, one of the things I focus on is accurately understanding each person & their position – whether it’s a single client, or the client’s entire team. It’s hard to move forward with anything – whether it be policy, personal development, team culture or managing a change without accuracy.
Accuracy – on everyone’s part – is key in understanding and addressing any situation, however simple or complex it seems. Sometimes I think we expect others to be accurate in their depiction of us and what we care about, but we find it much more difficult to extend that courtesy to others and what they care about. Especially if they appear to be in opposition to us.
As I tell my children, accuracy is our friend. Whether it’s the current political happenings, your company, your team, or your family – consider giving the gift of accuracy. Be objective in your search & depiction of the the facts.
P.S. – if you’re looking for strategies to practice accuracy with the people in your life, whether they’re business or personal connections, one good strategy is to identify your (& their ) biases. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder is one of the best ways I know to get a good understanding of yourself & others. Email me ( firstname.lastname@example.org) to get more info.