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Conforming to reality

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Long before Gordon Livingston became a doctor and a public wise man, but after he graduated from West Point, he was a newly minted lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division, trying to orient himself one day on a field problem at Fort Bragg, N.C.

As he stood there studying a map, his platoon sergeant approached him.

“You figure out where we are, lieutenant?” the sergeant asked.

“Well, the map says there should be a hill over there, but I don’t see it,” Livingston replied.

“Sir,” said the veteran of many young officers, “if the map doesn’t agree with the ground, then the map is wrong.”

Lesson: There’s good reason for gathering data. Make sure the “facts” in your head conform to reality.

— Adapted from Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now, Gordon Livingston, Marlowe and Co.

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