#1088 Flashlight vs. Hammer

How Are You Using Life's Data?

Today we’re going to return to David Brooks’ great book The Second Mountain for a little more wisdom.

Let’s flip open our copies of the book to page 294.

We’re now in the section of the book in which David walks us through how to go ALL IN on our fourth commitment: Community. (Recall the four commitments we want to pay attention to in our quest for a moral life: Vocation + Marriage/Family + Philosophy/Faith + Community.)


David’s walking us through how great community-development teams work. We’ll skip the details and focus on one line.

This one: “They use data as a flashlight, not a hammer.

Great community development leaders pay attention to the data. BUT, when the data inevitably shows that some things aren’t working, they don’t use that data as a “hammer” to punish the people involved on the ideas that didn’t work, they use the data as a FLASHLIGHT to learn more about what might work.

That’s a big distinction.

And, it begs the question: How do YOU use the data in YOUR life?

Do you go all fixed mindset on yourself and use any “bad” data as another sign you’re failing and/or permanently flawed?


Do you throw on your growth mindset experimenter’s lab coat and use the data as a FLASHLIGHT to shine some light on what might need some work?

That’s Today’s +1.

Got any data coming in that might indicate something’s not quite working the way you’d like?


Put the hammer away.

Here’s a flashlight.

Let’s Optimize.


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