“Are your beliefs based on facts?” 34 of 37 people I asked recently responded “yes” immediately.
I’d advise you not to believe them.
Here’s the test: When shown facts which are different, or contradict what someone calls the factual basis for their beliefs, do they change their beliefs?
Often, they won’t. Those beliefs have become so important they are part of the self-narrative. Those beliefs, in short, have become the foundation, rather than facts.
Beliefs drive behaviors, especially decision-making. These beliefs may or may be strongly connected with underlying facts. Beliefs are the lens and framework by which all else is regarded. This is why people with different beliefs can reach completely opposite conclusions from the same set of data. This is the underlying reason why individuals focus on data which reinforces their belief, while completely ignoring data with contracts their belief.
The most likely situations where beliefs are changed when new facts are presented are those where there is weak personal association or identity with a belief. I believe India has the worst traffic in the world, but if you give me new data about traffic in another country I will probably change my belief. If you present new data about the health effects of gluten I might change my beliefs about bread, though I really like bread. Don’t waste your time showing me data to support a political candidate with polar opposite views to mine.
In a quiet place, take a moment to be honest with yourself – recall instances where you didn’t change your beliefs when you had different facts. I guarantee those instances were related to your profession, a political or religious view, or something deeply important to you.
Leaders are almost always engaged in change initiatives. How people – you, your team, your organization, your customers – perceive and interpret information is closely connected with fundamental beliefs.
Present relevant new data and facts to people as part of eliciting change. But do so with the full, sober understanding that you may be facing powerful beliefs that discount your facts as irrelevant. It’s unlikely that you are leading an organization where facts always rule beliefs.
Did you expect the world is fair with facts, especially your facts, and will come to the same “rational” belief you have? Better change your belief, because the facts don’t support it!