When Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

2019-05-23T13:05:00-07:00 February 24th, 2017|Tags: , |

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our former Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

Last week, I said I like numbers. Actually, there are times when I don’t like numbers. I was reminded of this recently when a friend joined me for lunch at a Jack Astor’s restaurant in downtown Toronto. After we settled in, he brought to my attention that each menu entry was accompanied by its caloric content. (Beginning in 2017, new provincial regulations require that chain restaurants having twenty or more outlets in Ontario must publish this information for “standard food items.”)

As my eyes fixed on the item I would have chosen absent this information, I was horrified to see that the calorie count exceeded fifty percent of what health professionals have determined is my daily limit! This fact was not welcome. However, based upon the numbers, I chose a different item. In other words, the facts caused me to make a different choice from that which I would have made without them.

The foregoing brings to mind a line from Thomas Gray’s poem, “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” (1742): “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” In business, ignorance can be a fatal mistake. It is also not a good excuse! Management’s knowledge of the facts, quantitative and qualitative, is critical to making good business decisions. For example, establishing budgets and then monitoring actual results against budget is an important discipline whereby leaders determine financial progress and take corrective action. It is also a critical means whereby boards of directors hold CEOs accountable.

Failure to face the facts can be a prescription for disaster.

While some would prefer not to be “confused by the facts,” most of us recognize that failure to face the facts can be a prescription for disaster, whether professional or personal. Which brings me to my point.

Ignorance can be fatal. The probability that our bodies, no matter how fit, will succumb to the gravity of aging is one hundred percent. This reality should galvanize every marketplace leader to think through the implications of death. The fact that few actually consider this inevitability suggests that most view ignorance as bliss. I suspect that most marketplace leaders are so distracted by the excitement of climbing the achievement ladder and the accompanying rewards that they are de facto indifferent to these questions.

This reality is tragic for them, their families and society as a whole. Why? In the Bible, God has made it very clear that He loves us and wants us to experience the joy and fulfillment that can only come through a relationship with Him. As a result, He has designed us to hunger after three things – destiny, intimacy and meaning. I would label these the three key “facts of life.” They are common to everyone and explain much human behaviour, both good and bad. Most importantly, they point to God as the only One capable of truly satisfying these cravings. For more on this topic, I refer you to an excellent book by Erwin McManus entitled “Soul Cravings.

Would you like to engage the facts rather than avoid them? We invite you to check out a LeaderImpact Group to explore the foregoing assertions and other big topics.

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.