I’m conscious not to bring my politics to Linked In followers. Normally, whatever that is. BTW I’m an agnostic – I don’t believe any politician over another. But I respect that they do the job I’m not prepared to do and in any democracy, someone has got to do it.
But I feel I should speak out. As I’ve asked before: “What’s the opposite of honesty?” People often think it’s lying, but it was much more often witnessed as silence.
Until recently at least. I used to say we rarely witness people deliberately lying. But recently it has felt like it’s fast becoming the norm. Not the quiet, stealthy lying and leaving no trail – such as the myth of arguing ‘we won’t privatise the NHS’ when it already has been. But out and out bold lying for effect. And simple dismissal of contrary opinion or evidence.
Just take what you read in the newspapers and online. There appear to be different universes depending on your sources. This is exacerbated by the way our brains work. They jump to conclusions subconsciously and faster than we can think. They jump to the conclusions which fit their frame of reference. So everything reinforces naturally. Or polarises if you are not using your conscious mind as well to evaluate all of the data, not just the data that fits your previous opinion.
It’s important to read a broad spectrum of these ‘news’ articles flying around, regardless of your feelings about one party or another, or one faction or another. Whether it’s about Corbyn being set up or being a poor leader, being who people want or not what people want. Whether it’s about Boris being a hero or a liar. Whether it is selective use of arguments about “that’s democracy” when it comes to Brexit or new prime ministers.
Particularly it’s important when it comes to our businesses and the economy. It’s about business confidence. Confidence in what to do comes from confidence in yourself and your views. Blindness to what’s happening leads to misplaced confidence. Staying curious about all arguments, and all sides of those arguments, is the key to spotting opportunities and de-risking surprises.
For example, I’m grateful to a friend who posted the Daily Express’s view of how wonderful everything is in the economy post Brexit and that all nay sayers are whinging. This counterbalances opinion of other commentators on the Markit indicator of corporate confidence a lead indicator to recession. Be prepared for either or.
This propaganda style of journalism – i.e. “there’s only one way to look at this and it’s my way, regardless of the evidence” – explains apparent surprises like the Brexit vote. By reading all sources, surprises can be understood in advance. And you can be prepared. So have a plan if the US elects Trump. Don’t just think it won’t happen.
And even more importantly….If we let the acceleration of ‘post-factual’ journalists and politicians combine behind previously unacceptable racist behaviours and lying in full view without objection, we’re all in trouble, whatever your beliefs. I’ve never seen consciously lying being an acceptable tactic and silence is the opposite of honesty. One has to speak out. This is going to get harder to do. In society. Witness the unwillingness of the IOC today to act on systematic doping. So it’s therefore all the more important in our businesses.
It is so relevant to our businesses. Society is what it is. And currently there are many things shaping our future as we move from a values based form of democracy to something else. What businesses do and how they do it, will have major influences on society. It’s not just politicians, but board directors have a responsibility to the economy, the taxes that fund society, to respect the values and principles of the countries they operate in. To operate truthfully and openly, without prejudice, fraud or corruption.
So speak up for your values. Don’t whinge later that the liars are bring promoted and winning in your business, if you haven’t stood up now inside your business about what’s happening in the society & environment in which your business operates.