It’s not what happens, but how you react…

It’s not what happens, but how you react...

“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” - Epictetus

I confess, I did not know this quote came from Epictetus, but it's one I've known for a very long time. It's applicable to all of life, but so very useful in data management.

Let's face it, no matter how good we are at managing our data, we're always going to run into software bugs, data errors, bad business rules, and more. Our data is never going to be perfect. So what matters is not that something is "wrong," but how we react when we learn something is wrong.

I can't tell you how many times I've had clients say something like: "We discovered the address we have in our database for one of our board members is incorrect, so going forward we're going to manage that list in Excel."

This is a good example of overreacting to an error in data. The reality is that the data can just as easily be incorrect in Excel. And creating this shadow database actually creates more problems than it addresses.

Clean data is important, of course. But we have to acknowledge that the data will never be perfect, and our response to imperfect data needs to be proportional to the size of the error itself. How you react is what matters.

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