Do you know your facts?

Whether in discussion, debate, or decision, you have to know your facts. In order to formulate a well thought out opinion that you can support, you need to do your research, ask questions, and gain a mastery of the topic at hand. You will never know everything you would like to, but you can enhance your chance at success by knowing more than you do today.

The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, said, “I believe in innovation and that the way you get innovation is you fund research and you learn the basic facts.” The next step after obtaining the facts is putting them to use. As former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. opined, “The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts, but learning how to make facts live.”

Discussion. The best way to get your message across is first and foremost to have a great message. With an understanding of the facts – the vision of where you are trying to go, the conditions under which you are operating, and your plan to achieve the vision – you’re sure to have positive discussions.

“A good rule for discussion is to use hard facts and a soft voice.” – Dorothy Sarnoff

Debate. If you want to make real progress you sometimes have to be willing and able to debate and stand up for your positions when you don’t yet have support. The best debater knows the facts and how to use them to support the position.

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate.”– Margaret Heffernan

Decision. In the end, the true measure of how well you know your facts is the decision. If you know your facts, then a decision will be made. If you don’t know your facts well enough, then discussion and debate may continue beyond their productive use. It is not that the decision has to be the one you first proposed, but it must be the one that the facts support.

“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”– Tony Robbins