Find the Truth

Building on my recent post about Noticing, today I want to talk about Explaining.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s often easy to jump to a conclusion about why something happened.  In fact, that is pretty much always the easiest thing to do.  I mean, I know stuff, I’ve been around, I know this person or this situation, of course I know why they just did what they did.  But… usually I don’t.  Not really.  While my perceptions might be sharp and noticing might bring the important signals to my attention, my explanations for things are often wrong.  Or, if I take the time to separate from the situation and set aside my own desires or attachments, I might realize a completely different explanation that makes more sense and is more plausible.  However, even that cool-headed explanation might be wrong.  Rather than providing your own explanation for why something happened, it is better to investigate, and investigation will provide a truer understanding.

If you’re a scientist and you notice that the subject of your study (molecule, insect, planet, body part) behaved a certain way, you would probably look for precedent in a theory that explained that behavior, or maybe design an experiment that would test your own hypothesis about the thing you noticed.  It can’t hurt to look deeply and rigorously when seeking explanations for things that happened in your life as well.

  • Notice that someone had a snarky tone when they said something to you?  The best thing to do might be to ask them why.
  • Notice that there’s always a puddle of water in the same place on the bathroom floor?  Check above, behind, below, and to the side of it; Watch patterns of activity in that area through a 24-hour period.
  • Notice that the remote control isn’t working?  Check if it’s the batteries, and if not, take it apart to see if might be something loose or corroded inside.

You get the point.  People, places, things, even our own feelings: If you’ve noticed something, it’s probably important.  Now, if you can ask questions and seek data about the thing you’ve noticed, you’ll be better prepared to determine and execute an appropriate solution.  Let’s review the framework:

  1. Noticing
  2. Explaining
  3. Prescribing
  4. Actioning

If you don’t notice something–or ignore what you noticed–you can’t do anything about it.  So, we’re not fixing anything without that.  (See the previous post).  Now, if you don’t find a correct explanation for something, that will lead to you prescribing an incorrect solution, and taking wrong action.  This pattern just leads you back to noticing something’s wrong again, and if you again fail to find the correct explanation, then you’re just trying random approaches to the problem without success.

On the other hand, if you’ve noticed something and investigated deeply for an explanation of why it happened (and really peel back that onion, asking, “Why?” about each why you discover), then you might be much closer to a true understanding.  So, your prescription and action will be closer to a true solution.

So, don’t just respond off-the-cuff to the things you notice.  Seek the truth, deepen your understanding, come up with better answers, and improve the effectiveness of your actions.

Published by nicnakis

Nicholas |nik-uh-luhs| n. a male given name: from Greek words meaning "victory of the people" John |jon| n. a male given name: from Hebrew Yohanan, derivative of Yehohanan "God has been gracious" Nakis |nah-kis| n. a Greek family name derived from the patronymic ending -akis (from Crete) Amha |am-hah| n. an Ethiopian given name meaning "gift", from Geez Selassie |suh-la-see| n. Ethiopian name meaning "trinity", from Geez

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