What’s True vs What Works
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People are far more interested in what works than what’s true.”

This quote by Andy Stanley reminds me of my college macro-economics professor.

Professor Hayashi repeatedly said, “In theory, this is how the market is supposed to work.”

My professor taught what was true but failed to tell me what works. He taught sound theory. He drew investment curves and mathematical equations to demonstrate when interest rates drop, borrowing and investment increase.

In theory, that is true. But it did not work following the Great Recession of 2008. Business investments, jobs and GDP did not grow, even with the Federal Reserve offering zero interest to banks.

What works to bring an economy out of recession? Entrepreneurship, a word Prof. Hayashi never mentioned in class or in my textbook.

What’s true can be what works, but it’s frequently not. I’ve learned over the past 60+ years that what works and what’s true are often diametrically different. Here are some examples:

  • It’s true that having a high FICO score can make borrowing money easier. What works is spending less than you make to stay out of debt.
  • It’s true annual performance reviews can identify an employee’s strengths and weaknesses. What works are daily coaching sessions where your manager simply asks “What are you working on? Do you need any help?”
  • It’s true that memorizing answers will get you an “A” on school exams. What works to achieve success in life is learning how to ask great questions.
  • It’s true most business text books recommend every business have a detailed strategic plan. What works is a 1-page plan because it’s easier to create, communicate and change.
  • It’s true that it’s good to follow your passion. What works is following opportunity. There are 5.8 million opportunities (jobs openings) in America in 2016. Don’t follow your passion, but bring it with you to the opportunities that present themselves.

Andy Stanley’s primary point in making the statement that opened this blog is this: Virtually no one that attends his church is on a truth quest. Instead, they are on a quest for what will work for them to make them happy, at peace and successful.

What truth have you experienced that does not work in your personal or professional life? 

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Tom Pryor
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