Before John Adams became President of these United States (at the time, the job didn’t exist!), he was a lawyer. One of his more notable cases was a defense of some soldiers who participated in The Boston Massacre. During the trial, he uttered one of my favorite quotes, and one of which I want to remind us all today. Maybe it’s all the rhetoric ramping up as we enter the heart of the political season or maybe it’s a discussion I was having with someone about a business point. Either way, it’s a thought all of us need to keep in mind:
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
I’m sure you’ve seen deleted tweets or Facebook photos that have come back to haunt people – facts rearing their ugly heads. Maybe you’ve seen a piece of videotape that directly contradicts some politician’s assertion of a statement they made (or didn’t make). Maybe you’ve also taken the time to check out the “facts” in a news piece, sales presentation, or a co-worker’s excuse for sub-par performance. I wish more of us did and I wish the noise level wasn’t so high as to drown out the credible sources of information. They’re out there – it’s on us to find them.
President Reagan tried to quote Adams in 1988 and said “facts are stupid things” – he may have been more right than he knew in that it seems to have set a tone for much of the world that’s come after. Nevertheless, I think the single most important thing we as businesspeople can do (and as good citizens, frankly) is to be relentless in our pursuit of them. Be as stubborn as they are!