So Much Information; Too Little Insight

Much of what I do involves working with people pondering a decision. The root of which either affects their finances or is affected by them. In other words, we pretty much end up talking about and strategizing on almost everything concerning life! 🙂

“I have six figures sitting in a savings account earning a measly .015%; what should I do?

“I need to invest; I have money to invest; I just don’t know where to begin and I don’t trust the stock market?

“I’m lucky because I make more than enough, but I have poor savings habits.”

“I need to get out of debt!”

“How do I determine how much to save if we’re planning to buy a house, or start a family, or start a business, or….?”

“I’m getting a divorce and have to start over…and he managed all our finances…”

What’s Different is Actually the Same

The decisions they are looking to make and the questions they are contemplating are varied. But when they come to me with these and other questions like these, they are yearning for the same thing: information. And even though they don’t say it specifically, they also want assurance said information will help them make the right decision.

Gathering (more) information is usually what you do before making a decision; when you wish to increase your knowledge about a topic or issue; or when you simply want to feed your curiosity.

I suspect when you choose to read my blog posts, that you, too, are yearning for information – at least to some degree. Likewise, you may want another outlet to confirm you are doing it – whatever “it” is – right.

More information is certainly what I wanted last week when I was asked to make a decision I felt woefully unprepared to make. And, I definitely wanted to be right.

There was a part of me – the part I voiced to the person on the other side of the phone that said: “I don’t have enough information…” The other part of me – the part that remained silent – recalled the wise words from one of my favorite professors from business school.

Prof. Simaan taught corporate finance. And during one of his office hours when I went to kvetch about the class’s case study assignment (Chrysler’s warrants), he said this: “Jacquette, do you ever have all the information you need to make a decision?” He went on further to say how he wasn’t interested in whether I got the “right” answer; rather, he wanted to know how I thought and see how I defended my thesis. From that point forward, things shifted for me in that class, and I’m proud to say I got an “A.”

What he did for me with that single question (err: challenge) is what I hope I do for everyone whom I have the privilege to coach, train, teach, or influence in some way.

Insight > Information

In my eyes, that means getting you to see that information, alone, is never enough.

Indeed, one of the problems I see today is people falsely believing that more information is what will lead to the making of a better decision. It’s understandable — it’s a sign of our times, with access to so much information at our fingertips 24/7.

But there’s a danger to just chasing after (more) information because: information does not equal insight.

Information tends to make us feel better because it’s easier to measure the data and facts we’re collecting; it’s “outer-focused” and more objective.

Insight, on the other hand, is less easy to measure using typical quantifiable metrics. It’s more obtuse because it taps into your intuition, emotions, and instinct. But what makes insight more powerful than information alone is that it…

  • is the foundation for making smarter decisions;
  • drives your behavior and shapes how you act upon information;
  • helps you get comfortable with the information you don’t know and may never know;
  • helps you filter out the information you don’t need and focus on what you retain;
  • reminds you to consider how you’ll feel both the moment before you make a decision & the moments after you choose.

Here’s the deal: You rarely ever have a shortage of information. More likely, you might lean toward feeling overwhelmed by all the information available to you.

And you just might feel frustrated that even with all this information you still feel like you’re missing an important piece of the puzzle.

That missing piece is insight.

While information may be the first thing you seek when you’re pondering a decision, it’ll behoove you to seek (more) insight. It’ll serve you well.

 

photo credit: Google images

 

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