August 2, 2012
No parent, professor, or mentor ever mentioned this Life Lesson. Allow me to share what I have learned to be my actual job. Regardless of anyone’s role, in any industry, at any experience level: your true job is to discern and conquer bad information.
Meet the Three Information Sirens. Just as Odysseus steered clear from the Sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, you must recognize and overcome these dangerous information types beckoning everywhere, everyday.
Partial Information: you are provided part of a picture, dependent on the person’s memory, mood, or available documentation. Perhaps versions change. Or, time runs out. Things are left out just because. Meh.
Incorrect Information: just flat out wrong. Don’t even waste mental or emotional energy trying to guess why the incorrect information was provided.
Politicized Information: this information has hints and tints of ulterior motives. This is the most dangerous type of Information Siren, as it requires a little more planning and deliberateness. By acting on this information, you could be walking straight into the trap!
Imagine if you took action on this bad information, like how those desperate sailors heeded the calls of the tempting Sirens. You could crash into the deathly rocks just like those voyagers.
It’s not the Information Giver’s fault per se. Rather, it’s just universal human nature based on rapidly changing environments with limited time and resources.
The best weapon against the Information Siren is developing a keen sense of analysis and synthesis. Alas, analysis alone is insufficient because this step only breaks down the information for understanding. Next, a synthesis is required to compare and connect the information to your “database” of current knowledge, past experience, and good ol’ gut.
Be your own Information Ninja. Slice through the crud. Dodge the landmines. Successful Information Ninjas piece different information together to form their own path. Take the partial information and complete it with trusted information. Neutralize the politicized information by creating a mutually beneficial relationship. Cultivate a trusted, loyal network. This is your true job despite that job title on the pay stub: assessing all the available information and creating your own conclusion.
It’s not about distrusting everyone and subverting the “system.” It’s training your mind and gut to distinguish, “I understand, but I will also re-validate and ask more questions.”