By Mark Wicks, Community Development Director
I saw a quote the other day that has really stuck with me. That happens a lot, actually, as I am sort of a quote collector. This one, though, just clicked more than most:
“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” — Paulo Coelno
Simple, but so true. We live in a world these days bombarded by opinions, thanks to (un)social media, the internet, TV talk shows, talk radio, newspapers and tabloids.
Everyone, it seems, has an opinion. And that is their right, free speech and all.
But an opinion not based on facts or education can be dangerous and even harmful. Furthermore, I would argue, an opinion without any action whatsoever to follow it up is like a half-eaten donut … all it will do is draw flies and be thrown out. (That quote is mine, by the way.) More on that in a bit.
In my job I read and hear a lot of different opinions, and for the most part that is good. Anyone in a leadership role needs to hear different ideas and different perspectives, consider all angles, in order to make the most informed and well-thought-out decisions possible.
Not everyone will always agree with, or like, every one of those decisions, but usually they at least understand them if they know the process and what went into that decision.
More often than not, though, the people these days who are screaming the loudest are usually the ones who understand the least about what is actually going on. They haven’t bothered to double-check the facts or talk first-hand to someone who is involved. They have a knee-jerk reaction to something someone else said that they heard from somewhere else, and thanks to social media they can instantly share that knee-jerk reaction with everyone else. True or not, wrong or right, it’s simply thrown out there for all to see.
The problem is all too often first impressions are lasting ones. Or, as Stephen Colbert was quoted as saying: “It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. That’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything.”
He, and I, are not alone in worrying about how quickly people are grasping at the first thing they hear or read about, without making sure it is accurate or the truth. What’s more, social media has made it all too easy and safe to re-spew it to others without considering the consequences … to other’s feelings, reputations, relationships or businesses.
Consider the following quotable quotes:
“At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation and prejudice.” — Gore Vidal
“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” — John F. Kennedy
“There is no such thing as public opinion. There is only published opinion.” — Winston Churchill
“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.” — Voltaire
An opinion is fine, just consider putting some thought and research into it before sharing if you don’t want it coming back and making you look bad. Because it can, and will.
“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity … we listen for what’s behind the words.” — Roy T. Bennett
Sharing an opinion is one thing, actually doing something constructive with it is another. Hence my earlier half-eaten donut reference. Opinions can make a difference if used properly. That’s my opinion, of course, but apparently a well-shared one.
“Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life watching what goes on, in my opinion, you’re wasting your life.” — Jackie Robinson
“It’s not opinion polls that determine the outcome of elections, it’s votes in ballot boxes.” — Nicola Sturgeon
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” — Mark Twain
“What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.” — Jason Fried, Rework
“If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” — Anita Roddick
“It has been noted that actions speak louder than words. Truth is, I have found that during many situations in life, words are just noise… and actions are the ONLY things that speak.” — Steve Maraboli
“Don’t wait for something to happen, make it happen.” — Collin Schabenbeck
“We cannot do everything, but we can all do something.” — Dillon Burroughs
“If your presence doesn’t make an impact, your absence won’t make a difference.” — Trey Smith
So, want to help make a difference? Get up and get involved with something. If you need ideas, Community Revitalization has plenty of options at 641-228-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.