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“BUT, IT’S TRUE!” PT. 3

Imagine the following scenario:

I’m sitting in a business meeting with a potential investor discussing my company’s shareholder agreement.

The investor prospect asks, “T.K., can you explain the meaning of the second sentence in the first paragraph on page two?”

I randomly respond by saying, “I had pancakes for breakfast this morning!”

The prospect gives me a weird look and then replies, “…and what does that have to do with my question about the shareholder agreement?”

“Well, I don’t know”, I say defensively. “But it’s TRUE! I REALLY DID have pancakes for breakfast this morning!”

If the above scenario sounds a little “off”, that’s because it should.

It sounds “off” because of a basic distinction we all recognize between “truthfulness” and “relevance”.

“Truthfulness” is the quality of someone who accurately reports facts.

“Relevance” is the attribute of something that is usable or related to the matter at hand.

Being truthful is not the same as being relevant.

What I have to say may be factual, but that doesn’t mean my facts are going to be useful, helpful, or connected to the things that matter to the audience I’m addressing.

In my above scenario, the statement “I had pancakes for breakfast this morning” was TRUE, but in relation to my potential investor’s concerns it was irrelevant.

It may have been relevant to ME. After all, I get to decide what’s important to me.

The investor, on the other hand, is under no obligation to indulge ideas that are irrelevant to HIM nor does he need to feel guilty for refusing to do so.

Here’s today’s two cents:

There are many sources of information that are eager to inform you of the latest horror story that took place somewhere in the universe.

And even though these horror stories may frighten you, depress you, or stress you out, these “news outlets” feel quite proud of themselves for telling you anyway because, after all, IT’S TRUE!

“But it’s true!” is the ultimate trump card.

Why?

Because if something is true, then we’re being delusional if we DON’T pay attention to it, right???

Wrong!

You’re being delusional ONLY if you ignore something that YOU actually NEED to pay attention to.

If you’re choosing to ignore a message of doom and gloom because 1) it doesn’t benefit you to be aware of it and 2) your energy is better spent on constructive things, then you’re not being delusional. You’re being deliberate. You’re being conscious of how you use your time. You’re being healthy.

Some truths, whether they feel good to listen to or not, ARE things you need to know.

HOWEVER, there are also some truths, including so-called negative ones, that you DON’T need to know.

Ultimately, YOU have to be the one who decides what kind of information-diet best serves YOU.

This is not about other people’s right to report whatever facts they wish to report. It’s about your right to decide what you should focus on.

I believe in freedom of speech. I do NOT believe in the mindless consumption of every piece of data that’s put in front of our faces.

Be deliberate about the stories you consume and the ideas in which you indulge.

Whether they are negative or positive isn’t what’s important.

What’s important is that you are putting your attention on the things that take YOU where YOU want to be.

At least that’s the way I see it.

What are your thoughts?

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“BUT, IT’S TRUE!”

“BUT, IT’S TRUE!” PT. 2

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    1. That is hilarious 🙂 Yeah, Facebook can be a really positive tool, but it can also be a cesspool of drama and distraction if one isn’t selective. Thanks for your nice comment, my friend 🙂 Cheers!

  1. Loved this TK! Right on the money! Just what I needed today with so much floating around. I need to sift out the stuff I don’t need and focus on what I need to and that is not easy. Too much coming t me right now. Thank you! Wise words as always! When can we meet for coffee? It’s on me! Nancy

    1. Thanks Nancy! i’m glad this one hit the nail on the head for you. Coffee? I’d love to meet for coffee. You’re one of my favorite people and my respect for you is sky high. I know this is kind of far off, but can we make it happen in the 2nd or 3rd week of January? I get my surgery on the 31st (yes, they moved my date up. isn’t that great???). Let me know if that works for you and we can connect at the coffee bean. I’m so excited. I look forward to catching up. Cheers 🙂 And please give Billie a hug from me 🙂

  2. I just read your other two post about the same topic, and the meaning or relevance isn’t really clear. At least not to me.

    In your fist post, your example was how bad the traffic was on the person’s way to work. This may not necessarily be relevant this person but because it’s true about the question in which was asked, they told the truth. This could be relevant to the person whom asked because they did ask how the drive was, and most likey were expecting the truth about the drive.

    You later said in the same post that you never hear about people saying how successful their day was, with their steady heart, the plentiful amount of oxygen, how wonderfully healthy the trees looked, the fully being clothed and a full stomach. This may not be a relevance to some one if they were asking bout the drive to work. Correct? Haha. And for the most part, this may be irrelevant to any person unless they had a bad heart, troubles breathing, and couldn’t see the wonderfully healty trees. Yes, it may be true that the trees look good, but it is irrelevant, a beating heart is a beating heart, and breath is breath, it’s all true. Clothing and food are true as well, but it is an irrelevance to those whom wake up to it every morning.

    Now in your second post your topic is about staying focused on what is relevant to you.

    Happiness and destination are relevant to everyone in their way of perseption. But it’s true may not always be the answer to what is trying to be said. A crash on the side of the road is pretty relevant to a driver, it tells them how bad the conditions of the road may be, and how they should react to the road in order to avoid the possibility of another crash. Does the truth of there being an accident really affect the happiness of the driver? No, most likely not. Does it help their journey to their spiritual destination? No, most likely not. But it does make a relevance of a more physical journey and destination.

    In this post, you say that we have the power of what is relevant truth and what is relevant truth to those aorund us.

    Yes, we diecide this relevance, but we normally don’t state that we had pancakes for breakfast in a business meeting. If this were a dieting meeting, this would be relevant information not only to you but to the trainer as well. It’s relevant to them because now they know why you didn’t lose the two pounds over the last week.

    You would be a very delusional person to not find the relevance in the truth that is needed to be known, but you wouldn’t be so delusional to take in all the truth that isn’t so relevant and find a way of making it relevant. Granted, most people would not find having pancakes a relevant truth, but then again you never know.

    Anyways, that’s what I think.

    Cheers

    Emmy

    1. Emily: I just read your other two post about the same topic, and the meaning or relevance isn’t really clear. At least not to me.

      TK: That is a fair statement, Emily.

      Well, I should first begin by thanking you for the opportunity to clarify what I have written. It’s very easy to simply dismiss what someone says without entertaining interpretations that may differ from our initial impression. Clearly, that is not what you are doing here. So I appreciate the fact that you have an open-mind about these sorts of things and that, even if we disagree, you allow me the grace of explicating and expounding upon my various points of view in light of your questions and counterpoints.

      Before I address your specific points, it may help if I state the basic point of all three “But it’s true” posts.

      Each of these posts constitutes an effort on my part to challenge a prevalent pessimistic assumption.

      That assumption is as follows:

      “If something is true, we are rationally and morally obligated to think about, talk about, and focus our attention on it.”

      Everything I say in these posts boils down to an attempt to challenge and undermine that one assumption.

      These are not posts about what I think people SHOULD focus on. They are posts about people’s right to focus on those truths that they have decided are relevant to their priorities.

      People who deliver so-called bad news are often very good at defending their right to “tell it like it is.”

      Frankly, I agree with them.

      People have the right to talk about whatever they wish EVEN IF it’s considered “negative.”

      However, people who wish to NOT focus on such things are often regarded as delusional or dishonest simply because they are ignoring facts.

      While this is SOMETIMES true, it is not AUTOMATICALLY true.

      There are many instances in which it is perfectly harmless and healthy for a person to cease focusing on certain truths EVEN IF those truths are “bad.”

      We always have the RIGHT to focus on the “negative”, but we do not always have the RESPONSIBILITY to do so.

      I am not here to challenge anyone’s right to engage in so-called negative conversations.

      I’m merely arguing for the rights of those who sometimes choose to dismiss those conversation as being irrelevant to them.

      Emily: In your fist post, your example was how bad the traffic was on the person’s way to work. This may not necessarily be relevant this person but because it’s true about the question in which was asked, they told the truth. This could be relevant to the person whom asked because they did ask how the drive was, and most likey were expecting the truth about the drive.

      TK: You’re absolutely correct on this point and I don’t think we have any disagreements as far as this observation is concerned. My only claim in relation to that example is that we are not always obligated to discuss the negative aspects of a situation. If you had a horrible drive on the way to work, you are totally FREE to tell me, BUT you’re not OBLIGATED to tell me. Even if I want to hear horror stories about bad traffic, you’re still not obligated to talk about that. You are free to tell your story in whatever way you wish whether it’s positive or negative. I am not saying we SHOULD omit the “negative.” I am simply challenging the assumption that it is automatically dishonest or unethical when we omit so-called negative truths.

      Emily: You later said in the same post that you never hear about people saying how successful their day was, with their steady heart, the plentiful amount of oxygen, how wonderfully healthy the trees looked, the fully being clothed and a full stomach. This may not be a relevance to some one if they were asking bout the drive to work. Correct? Haha

      TK: That is exactly my point. My point is not that people SHOULD talk about those things. My point was that if it’s acceptable to omit some so-called positive truths (which we do all the time), then it is also acceptable to omit some so-called negative truths. If there’s nothing delusional about a guy choosing to not talk about the plentiful amount of oxygen because he’s decided that it’s irrelevant to him, then there is also nothing delusional about a person choosing to not talk about how horrible traffic was if that’s irrelevant to them.

      Emily: And for the most part, this may be irrelevant to any person unless they had a bad heart, troubles breathing, and couldn’t see the wonderfully healty trees. Yes, it may be true that the trees look good, but it is irrelevant, a beating heart is a beating heart, and breath is breath, it’s all true. Clothing and food are true as well, but it is an irrelevance to those whom wake up to it every morning.

      TK: You say it so well, my friend. i couldn’t agree more. You’re proving my point….that it’s perfectly okay for a person to not discuss something if they consider it irrelevant. The only thing I would add is this: that same fact is ALSO true of so-called negative things. You are free to omit ANYTHING from your conversation if you decide it is irrelevant to your concerns and priorities.

      Emily: Now in your second post your topic is about staying focused on what is relevant to you.

      TK: That’s the point of all three posts…Decide what’s relevant to YOU, focus on it, and don’t let anyone guilt-trip you into focusing on their agenda JUST BECAUSE they’re spouting so-called facts. Don’t listen to anyone JUST BECAUSE what they’re saying is true. Listen because you want to listen. It’s your life. It’s your time. It’s your attention. YOU choose who you will spend it on. Why would you give that power to anyone else?

      Emily: Happiness and destination are relevant to everyone in their way of perseption.

      TK: Agreed! Each person has to decide this for themselves. You and I can’t decide this for someone else. Other people can’t decide this for us.

      Emily: But it’s true may not always be the answer to what is trying to be said.

      TK: I agree with that. I’m only challenging those instances in which “but it’s true” IS the sole answer to what is being said. I acknowledge that there are instances in which it is vital for us to acknowledge so called negative truths. As I wrote in the third post: “Some truths, whether they feel good to listen to or not, ARE things you need to know. HOWEVER, there are also some truths, including so-called negative ones, that you DON’T need to know.” Remember, my posts are a challenge to the assumption that you are obligated to pay attention to something JUST BECAUSE it’s true. This challenge only applies to that assumption.

      Emily: A crash on the side of the road is pretty relevant to a driver, it tells them how bad the conditions of the road may be, and how they should react to the road in order to avoid the possibility of another crash. Does the truth of there being an accident really affect the happiness of the driver? No, most likely not. Does it help their journey to their spiritual destination? No, most likely not. But it does make a relevance of a more physical journey and destination.

      TK: Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. We can’t automatically know that through thinking alone. It all depends on the context. There are many situations where it IS helpful for a driver to be aware of an accident. But there are also situations where the exact opposite is true. In my particular example, I deliberately created a very specific hypothetical scenario in which it WOULD be distracting and dangerous for the driver to focus on the accident. I did this to illustrate the POSSIBILITY that some truths, depending on the context, could be distracting or dangerous for you to focus on.

      Emily: In this post, you say that we have the power of what is relevant truth and what is relevant truth to those aorund us.

      TK: Let me make sure we’re on the same page here. I believe that each individual has the freedom to decide what is relevant to them based on their own goals, priorities, and concerns. I do NOT believe that one individual has the power or right to define what is relevant for another. Emily gets to decide what is relevant for Emily. T.K. does NOT get to decide what is relevant for Emily. No matter how passionate T.K. is about anything he says, Emily Is free to stop caring and to stop listening at any point. That is true for all of us. That’s my main point throughout…something may be true, but the audience gets to decide if it’s relevant enough to their concerns to focus on.

      Emily: Yes, we diecide this relevance, but we normally don’t state that we had pancakes for breakfast in a business meeting. If this were a dieting meeting, this would be relevant information not only to you but to the trainer as well. It’s relevant to them because now they know why you didn’t lose the two pounds over the last week.

      TK: I don’t disagree with that observation at all. This was an extreme example that I used to illustrate the fact that the value of a claim depends upon the context in which it is made. We may not normally talk about pancakes in a business meeting, BUT all of us regularly say things that are irrelevant to the priorities and concerns of others. And while we have the right to say whatever we wish to say, others also have the right to demand that we establish relevance if we wish to have their attention. If they ultimately decide that what we’re saying is irrelevant to them, then they have the right to stop giving us their attention. That is my fundamental thesis right there.

      Emily: You would be a very delusional person to not find the relevance in the truth that is needed to be known, but you wouldn’t be so delusional to take in all the truth that isn’t so relevant and find a way of making it relevant. Granted, most people would not find having pancakes a relevant truth, but then again you never know.

      TK: I couldn’t agree more. This is precisely why we must respect each person’s right to define what is relevant in their own lives. If something isn’t relevant to you, you don’t have to focus on it. If you want to focus on it anyway, you have the right to do that. If someone chooses to join you, that’s their right. If someone chooses not to join you, that’s their right.

      In most cases, the person who is SHARING information usually believes in the relevance of what they are sharing. After all, that’s why they share it. The person who is on the LISTENING end of the conversation, however, may have a different worldview and a different set of priorities than the person who is talking to them. If the listener decides that the sharer’s information is irrelevant to them, then they have the right to stop paying attention. That doesn’t make the sharer wrong, but it also doesn’t make the listener wrong.

      I’m not arguing against the sharer’s rights. I’m arguing for the listener’s rights.
      I’m not telling the listener what they should listen to. I’m telling the listener that they have the power to decide for themselves what they will listen to.

      As a person who loves a good challenge, you never let me down, Emily. MY GOODNESS, you are thought-provoking in a good way. Thanks for being respectful and thanks for the dialogue. It forces me to think more deeply about what I say and it challenges to be a better writer.

      Anyway, feel free to give your feedback on my reply. I look forward to your thoughts, but no pressure.

      Cheers,

      TK

      1. Thank you T.K., a lot of that was clairified for me.

        You are quite welcome, by the way. I love being able to open myself to the views of others, whether or not we agree or disagree. The more I open myself, the more I can learn, and the more I can use as reference for myself.

        I’m so glad I am capable of making you think.

        And having read through your reply I now understand what you mean in each of your posts. And I agree fully now that it is clairified.

        Some misunderstanding on your part that I would like to clairify, though I see how I worded it to make you think that way.

        In the 17th paragraph I said “…we have the power of what is relevant truth to usand what is relevant truth to those around us.” Ok, what I meant to say is that we have the power to decipher what is relevant truth to us and what COULD be relevant truth to those around us.

        I agree that we cannot fully decide what will be relevant to another person, but we can decide what amount of information would be useful for the other person. I understand that a person cannot fully know what is needed information to the other person, I also understand that the information in which we have may not be relevant to us, but it might be relevant to them. In a room, people will not care about what brand of socks you wear, this could be relevant information to you, but then again, yeah, probably not. In the same room though, people may care about the types of ingredients you used to cook with, this may not be relevant to you, but we have the capablity to say that the sugar in the drink is fake, and we have the capablity to say that our socks are Hanes. We have the power to decide what is relevant information to ourselves and what MIGHT be relevant information to others.

        In the 10th paragraph you asked a quite interesting question. “Why would you give that power to someone else?” Well, I have an answer for you, I wouldn’t fully give it, but I wouldn’t fully reject another person trying to decide what I should focus on.

        I think that people could give their opinions as sort of guidelines. If that makes sense… Their relevance of truth could be a sort of relevant truth “help along” to another person. Not as a full on “this is how it should be, because this is the truth”, no what I mean is that a person’s so-called negative truth could be used as a guide to get us where we may want to go. The same could be said for so-called positive truth, it could help us if we find the relevance in every truth possible. If that doesn’t make sense I apologize, but I’m trying to kind of explain the way that my mom taught me.

        The relevance of truth is how we decide it, yes, and we use this truth how we wish to use it, yes, but if could use this truth as a way of finding our ways through the dark, then maybe we can get to our destination with a little less struggle. Right? If we can find a way of focusing on everything, including the so-called negative facts and the positive ones, then we have our eyes as open as they can get and we have our minds as open as they will be. So-called negative information has positive connotation depending on how we chose to use the information and the truth in which we recieve from the negaitveness, this connotation that is implied could be the guidelines that I was talking about. Or at least that’s sort of how my mother has told me.

        Let me know what you think. I’m sure the last three paragraphs sound very much like unfinished thoughts, but I seem to be having difficulty explaining today.

        Cheers T.K.

        Thanks again! 🙂

        Emmy

        P.S. my name is just Emmy, haha, I noticed you kept saying Emily.

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