I have a friend that recently sold a business for $20 million.  Do you consider that to be a success?  It’s a question that I ask frequently and am always greeted with a rousing “Yes”.  While it may seem impressive, the fact is that it’s not.  My friend is an investor and paid $40 million for the business several years ago.  All-in-all, he actually lost $20 million in value.

We live in a headline society.  With the proliferation of content available to us, Internet access and curation via social media, too many times we read a headline without the backstory.  Or we read the backstory without challenging the assumptions.  We take the headlines and statements as facts.

But, just because something is stated as a fact does not make it true.

The quantity of information that we are consuming is supplanting the quality of such information.  In the process, we are forgoing the opportunity to probe, question, debate and inquire in exchange for more and newer information.  The old saying goes, “Garbage in, Garbage out”.

It is often said that information is power.  However, the true power is in having full information (or, at least, as close to it as you can get).

The next time you read about the amount of jobs created by a program, company or institution, probe further to figure out the cost of creating those jobs.  The next time you hear information compared in percentages, do the calculations on the numbers that those percentages equate to.  The next time that you hear about an overnight success, dig into how much time, money and effort was required to create that supposed sensation.

Don’t forget about context- it truly changes everything.