Becoming the go to person and looking at source data

In a conversation recently, a friend underscored the importance of becoming the “go to” person on whatever topic you are focused on at work. She referred to this as one of the most important habits you can build in your career.

As she talked about this, she shared something insightful – becoming the “go to” person isn’t all that much work. That’s because very few bother to do the pre-work. As she wisely observed, few show up to meetings with the pre-read done. Fewer still take the time to really absorb all the data available.

I found myself nodding fervently.

This is doubly true in life as well. Everyone has opinions – most of these are curated either from cherry picked data or “anecdata”/anecdotal data. That’s understandable. If it is hard to do the homework at a job where you’re paid to do just that, consider how many will actually dig deep enough to absorb source data* or look at a meta study (an analysis of multiple studies on the same topic) to then synthesize their point of view.

Just as it does in our career, I think the benefits to doing this in our life are incredibly rich. It helps us reason and gives us a depth of understanding that forms the foundation of thoughtfulness and equanimity.

So, become the “go to” person at work. Then, for subjects you care about, make the effort to look at the source data yourself to form opinions in your personal life. It takes work – but, on the bright side, it takes less work than you think.

*It is why aggregation/visualization of publicly available datasets created by initiatives like Our World in Data are so powerful. They make it so much easier to understand the data and to do the homework by democratizing access to information. We need more of these kinds of initiatives!