Informed vs driven

In tech, there’s often talk of being data informed over data driven. Pulled from the linked article:

  • Data-driven: You let the data guide your decision-making process
  • Data-informed: You let data act as a check on your intuition

When data guides your decision making, you’re always collecting more of it to have the most accurate models and find trends. But here’s the catch—data is never going to tell you the full story, and it’s never going to tell you exactly what you need to do next to keep growing. Too many companies think data should be their only guide and wind up over-optimizing small things rather than developing a bigger product vision.

I share this to set the framework for something I’ve been mulling over. How do you properly incorporate lessons from trauma/suffering into your life? Perhaps I grasp too firmly to Viktor Frankl’s philosophy of suffering as meaningful but there very much seems to be truth there. I’m quite obsessed with the ideas of sustainability and integration right now. They are two mental buzzwords for me that I keep coming back to. How do I approach this sustainably? How do I integrate my scattered life? What does applying those lenses to trauma/suffering result in?

It was this question that first got me thinking: how do you know when you’re acting out of trauma vs taking what you’ve learned and trying to be better in the world? I was trying to make a decision around a friendship in my life and I couldn’t figure out what to do. That’s when it hit me: am I being trauma informed or trauma driven? My trauma driven brain tells me to hold everyone close at all costs and remain extremely open because everything can change in an instant. My trauma informed brain tells a different, more nuanced story that focuses on prioritizing my key values (community, honesty, vulnerability, intentionality, etc) and my own little soul in the mix.

I’ve decided to be suffering informed rather than suffering driven or suffering avoidant (even worse in my opinion). What does this mean? I’m not quite sure but I’m oddly finding data informed vs data driven articles helpful. Ultimately, I am approaching it as a call to see the bigger picture and to involve other drivers than just suffering. Suffering is not the entire story. What instinctively feels hard is to move away from “but suffering taught me X” in the same way I know it’s easy to look at a partial data set and tell yourself a story. We all want to be proven right in our convictions.

Trauma has wedged itself deep within my thought patterns. Even years later, I still feel the remnants like cat hair that still sticks to your shirt after multiple loads of laundry. Trauma is a partial picture of this life though even if it’s a quite captivating and alarming one. It’s hard to ignore because it’s undeniable — we could all die at any moment. You can’t argue that. The ask is to accept those facts and still live fully. This is what I love about when I live in a “suffering informed” mode. My life inevitably feels fuller, more awake, and like it’s found a perfect groove.


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