We don’t know what we don’t know.
Which makes building a better business difficult at the best of times.
But virtually impossible if we ignore what we do know.
Or convince ourselves that this time the facts won’t apply. That we should act based only on what we want to be true.
As a case in point, consider Roland Burris.
For those outside the U.S., Roland Burris is the junior senator from Illinois. Appointed to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate by the former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who was then impeached for trying to auction the seat to the highest bidder.
As his final official act, he appointed Mr Burris, a 72 year old black Chicago politician, to fill the seat. A move the leadership of his party in the Senate immediately decided they would reject.
It was, the Democrats said, inappropriate, unacceptable, illegal, unconstitutional. Mr Burris was told his claim was invalid. They denied him the seat. Then they turned him away at the door. Literally.
Here are two facts they ignored:
Fact 1: There was no legal basis for their position. None that withstood the simplest scrutiny.
Fact 2: Nor any political one. Denying a black candidate the opportunity to replace the only black senator is bad for electoral college counting.
And so, after two weeks of noise and bluster, Mr Burris became Senator Burris.
For eight months, a chilly detente has existed. The Democrats counting the days until his term ends in 2011. Mr Burris left isolated and unwanted, and fighting his own ethics charges without support from his party.
Until now. When the issue of health care reform approaches a final vote in the senate. And the debate about the public option becomes real.
For the record:
- 77% of America wants health care reform with some form of government provided health care. The so-called public option.
- The Democrats need all 60 of their Senators to pass any kind of health care reform.
- Several are reluctant to support a public option.
- Mr Burris has declared, "I would not support a bill that does not have a public option. That position will not change."
Which leads us to two more facts the Democrats tried to exclude from their analysis:
Fact 3: Without Mr Burris’ support, the Democrats can’t pass health care reform.
Fact 4: Without health care reform, the Obama presidency slogan becomes, No, we can’t.
Imagine whatever vision of the future you want. Then put that aside and deal in facts.
Because dreams can come true. But only if you accept reality first.