what am I missing?

It’s been a good weekend taking in the first couple of days of the Olympics. Yesterday afternoon I had a fire burning, soup brewing on the stove and a new laptop on my knees to distract me from the TV.

For a while I was becoming frustrated with the speed of this new machine. It was taking way too long for things to load, or certainly longer than I would have expected on a new machine. It wasn’t until some hours later that I discovered there were stacks of downloads that had been happening in the background. It got me thinking about how quickly we are to make judgments without knowing all the information, even when we think we’ve got the complete picture. This is especially true when we have an emotional stake in a particular outcome.

Last week, in the context of a project I am working on, a senior executive argued confidently for a particular course of action. However in conversations with his staff the day before I knew he was gravely out of touch with reality and is in danger of wasting significant time and money. He thought he had the whole picture but was missing vital bits.

We all try hard to make wise judgements based on the information we have. However it serves us well to habitually ask ourselves if we are missing something. In fact we are always missing something. Our expectations are frequently unmet and we quickly jump to assessments that typically leave us disappointed and even angry. It’s usually the information we don’t have that can allow us move ahead productively.

So this week, having learned from my weekend laptop experience, when there are decisions to be made, I will be trying to seek out the information I don’t have, rather than simply make judgements based on limited knowledge. There’s always stuff going on in the background.