Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

It’s not your fault.

In that moment, in that context, and with all the information you had at the time?

You did the best you could.

You made the right decision.

You moved with the best of intentions.

You acted as any rational human would act.

Everything’s gonna be alright.

So… Then…

Why does the missing link come back to bite us so often?

One tragedy in life is living any moment based on a lie, an assumption, or a false narrative.

One success in life is being able to authentically identify and name the false or missing information.

One opportunity in life is choosing how to navigate, discern, and move forward with truth, perspective, and peace.

The Fog of Missing Information

Have you ever jumped to conclusions… Only to find out later that you were missing important information?

Maybe it was a decade ago, last year, or even yesterday. Maybe it was with friends, family members, or colleagues. Maybe it was no big deal at the time. Maybe it was a life lesson. Maybe it eventually wrecked your life.

It was a rush to judgment, a whiplash decision, a plausible assumption. It was nearly baseless.

It’s the trail guide pointing you in the wrong direction. It was a boisterous bit of bad advice all too bold to be fake. It was a game of telephone. It’s the rumor that gets people so excited to wonder if it might actually be true, that it’s… actually… already… true.

When something doesn’t make sense, this is the story told to make it make sense.

When there was a missing link, this must be the tie that binds.

If the evidence appears to satisfy the hypothesis, then this is the conclusion.

When the puzzle is missing pieces, these are the new pieces made to fit the puzzling puzzle.

The War of Missing Information

Missing information? It’s just life. It’s a natural part of being social creatures designed to live and interact with others in relationships, communities, and societies.

Unfortunately, people get miserably lost in the fog of missing information–frequently. And sometimes, missing information morphs into more than a maddening of misunderstandings.

Missing information grows tragic when it partitions people, ruins relationships, untethers ties, and wages wars. Missing information is the sword striking at the heart of unity, cohesion, peace, and harmony. It’s the black hole sucking you into a seemingly inescapable vacuum. It feels every bit of mysterious and complex. Yet, what if it’s solvable and simple?

The tragedy of missing information is not about the information.

The tragedy of missing information is about how people approach what’s missing.

The war of missing information cannot be blamed solely on the media, the general public, or others.

Conflict resolution begins with you. With me. With us.

It sounds so easy… So why is it so hard?

The Science Behind Missing Information

When lights in the sky catch the eye, the brain’s trained to connect the dots.


What is happening.

In her book Dare to Lead, author Brene Brown speaks to the brain-based science behind missing information in the context of human connection:

“In the absence of data, we will always make up stories. It’s how we are wired. Meaning making is in our biology, and when we’re in struggle, our default is often to come up with a story that makes sense of what’s happening and gives our brain information on how best to self-protect. And it happens a hundred times a day at work. Our organizations are littered with stories that people make up because they don’t have access to information” (Brown, 2018. p. 258).


Have you ever thought about that? Now that you’ve read this, I predict that you’ll see missing information in action, and that you’ll see it all the time.

Brown elaborates:

“Robert Burton, a neurologist and novelist, explains that our brains reward us with dopamine (that ‘aha’ moment) when we recognize and complete patterns. Stories are patterns. The brain recognizes the familiar beginning-middle-end structures of a story and rewards us for clearing up the ambiguity. Unfortunately, the brain rewards us for a good story–one with clear good guys and bad guys–regardless of the accuracy of the story” (Brown, 2018, p. 259).

The Future of Missing Information

While I can neither predict nor speak to the future implications of missing information on the macro level, I have learned strategies to mitigate the missing, to make sense of the unsensible, and to meander through the misunderstanding on the micro level, even if it means leaving the puzzle more unfinished and all the more puzzling than I found it. More on this approach coming in Part IV.

For now, I reside in the comfort of knowing that all is not lost. That there is hope. That missing information might mean no more than initially missing meaning and losing time. That each day, each moment is a new starting line, a new opportunity to get it right.

I believe in restoration.

I believe in circling up to circle back.

I believe in working hard to make it right.

And while I do believe in being right, I’m all the more grounded in getting it right.

Even if it means that I was wrong.

And especially if it means that I was wrong because I was missing information.

Blogger’s Note: This is Part III in: “Getting It Right,” a series based on one line from Brene Brown‘s Book: Dare to Lead. In The Armory on pages 75-76, Brown shifts Armored Leadership example 05: “Being a knower and being right” to the Daring Leadership response: “Being a learner and getting it right.” This one line has greatly impacted my work, life, and perspective in the last few years. End Blogger’s Note.

Previous Posts In This Series:

Getting It Right–Part II: Growing Perspective

Getting It Right–Part I: Food for Thought

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