TODAY a little philosophy. Just a little.
Contrary to popular belief, the truth is objective. There is no such thing as “your truth” or “my truth”. That’s a misunderstanding; an equivocation on fact and value. So let’s clear it up.
1. Chocolate is the best food in the world. True of false?
2. The sun will rise tomorrow? True or false?
Question #2 is a fact, and facts are either true or they’re not facts. This one is true. 🙂
Question #1 is a value judgement, not a fact. In and of itself it is neither true nor false.
Let’s see what happens when we rephrase it.
John thinks chocolate is the best food in the world. True or false?
Ask john. If John says yes, he does think chocolate is the best food in the world, than we can say that that’s a fact – that is, what John thinks of chocolate is a fact. Or, the fact is, John loves chocolate.
What Mary thinks of chocolate (Blah!), is also a fact. The fact is, Mary thinks chocolate is awful.
Value judgements are not true or false in and of themselves, because any statement of value presupposes a “somebody” (a John or a Mary) doing the valuing, and therefore depends on the judgment of the “valuer”.
Facts of reality, on the other hand, are not open to judgement or interpretation. It doesn’t matter that John thinks night is better than day… the sun is still coming up.
Why does this matter?
In leadership, as in life, objectivity is paramount. Any judgement, especially judgement of the statements of others, requires an ability to distinguish between fact and opinion.
More importantly, the mistaken belief that “the truth” is whatever anyone says it is, is like pulling the rug out from under realty’s feet – people are going to fall over.
The truth is, reality is not malleable to anyone’s feelings, wishes, opinions, desires, or demands. What is, is. As Aristotle put it, “A is A“. And “A” is “A” for everybody, regardless of what anyone thinks or feels about it.
So next time someone starts talking about “their” truth versus “your” truth, you’ll know better.
And next time you need to resolve a conflict, or direct a creative one, start by separating facts from opinions, truth from value judgments. Clarity, resolution, and creativity will quickly follow.