The colossal flood of Noah’s day was not the only epic flood. We are living in a flood of publishing. Every year there are over 1 million books published as well as over 2 million blog posts every day. Add in magazines, newspapers, and articles and... you are living in a flood of information. You have heard the “profound” statement more than once that "leaders are readers." But what are they reading? Is it accurate? Is it verified? Is it one person’s perspective? Do you even care?
Inaccuracies in respected publications
I got to thinking about this recently when I read an article in a well-respected national publication. I soon realized the article was written by someone I knew and about a failed employment situation with which I was very familiar. As a consultant, I have had the opportunity to hear or read something that I know is not accurate (at least from my perspective!) multiple times. In this case, I was shocked by the article’s inaccuracies, five in the first two pages alone. I would assume the author wrote from his “perspective” and what he “recalled,” but how could others close to this same event see it so differently? I was so shocked that such a respected national publication would print this that I called the publisher to ask if they verify before publishing. They did not have a good answer for me, and it was obvious they did not verify, at least in this case. The concerns I had with this article included:
- Multiple inaccurate statements were described as facts when there are witnesses and documentation to prove them wrong.
- The author focused on being a victim of this organization without any reference to his contribution to the problem and did not express concern for those who felt damaged by him.
How it happens
In some cases, authors may be intentionally deceptive such as the recent hot topic of “fake news” or with concrete facts including names, numbers, and other elements that we know are not true. However, in other cases, they actually believe what they are saying or writing is “real” or “the truth.”
I will always remember what I learned in one of my graduate courses on human behavior: when people are asked to describe an experience, they will do so, and will often do it with confidence. Yet, quite often, clear evidence showed their description was inaccurate! In other words, there is a gap between their confidence and accuracy. This is a good reminder for me and for you – don’t assume that because it is written, it is accurate. No matter who the writer is (including myself!), we all have brains that have a tendency to fill in parts of a story and can even include information we firmly believe is accurate but is not. After all, neuro-science continues to demonstrate that the brain only remembers certain elements of any event, and then it reconstructs it later.
How to respond
It would have been much more rich and beneficial for such an article as the one I read to be written from two vantage points. Wouldn’t that have resulted in being more accurate and beneficial for the readers? With the flood of literature being produced, a wise leader is one who does not assume it is all true or fact. President Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust but verify”. At the very least, trust, but never without question or doubt!
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.