The one problem with assumptions
they're the mother of all F*CK UPs
Ask any experienced (and competent) project manager for one word to explain why so many projects fail (which many do) and they’ll probably say, ‘Assumptions’.
In case you’re not familiar with it… It was an almighty assumption (that the engineers were too cautious in advising against launching ‘Challenger’, because of freezing temperatures on that day, in 1986) that caused the Shuttle to explode after take-off – killing all seven of its crew members.
What assumptions do we make that F*CK up our lives?
Well, that would make for a very long blog post. So, I’ll just offer a few examples here and welcome your thoughts below.
We make assumptions that we know the answers to complex problems, in all aspects of life and business – because we assume that most questions can be answered with common sense.
We regularly make assumptions about what other people are thinking and invariably assume we know how others will react to certain situations, or what we do or say.
Some people even assume that they know precisely what you’re going to say before you say it – and happily finish all your sentences for you.
Know anyone who does that?
All this, despite the fact that we have little or no understanding of ourselves!
Odd that, isn’t it?
We also make assumptions about the aim of a project without seeing it clearly written down. We do this a lot with our own (career, business or personal) projects too.
Very often, you’ll find that people in projects are not even pulling in the same direction or have any shared sense of the goal – Go figure!
We also make very dangerous assumptions about people who stand on a stage being qualified to be our sage.
We make assumptions about millionaires knowing all the secrets to life
Finally, a lot of people like to assume that others will do their job well – without any need for nudges or quality checks.
Why don’t we challenge?
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure – because I do!
I suspect some find it ‘uncomfortable’ to challenge others, either about their work or personal life.
As a general observation, I think a lot of British people go to extraordinary lengths to avoid causing offence.
We’re even careful to apologise when someone else is clumsy enough to bump into us, in the street.
Ever notice that?
Perhaps people don’t like to challenge others because they just assume that the challenge will cause offence… ignoring the possibility that a challenge might be exactly what the other person needs – and would welcome?
I’m not sure, but these assumptions are a real problem, aren’t they?
The thing, is we’re wrong to assume that challenges can only be unpleasant or destructive moments, and we’re wrong to assume that those who ‘challenge’ us are our ‘persecutors’.
I know it’s quite common to see the world that way, but there is a very different way to look at our relationships – and they’re beautifully outlined in this acclaimed book, ‘The Empowerment Dynamic’ by David Emerald.
We just have to flip our view of the world, so we can start to see our persecutors as ‘Challengers’, and perhaps even challenge them, if they’re not challenging us in a caring and compassionate way – as is often the case.
Can we stop making assumptions?
I doubt it.
It seems to be the way our brains are wired to save energy. We grab at what we think are quick and easy answers to all life’s complex challenges.
It’s worth a try though, especially when you consider that one of the causes of depression is making assumptions about there being simple black and white, answers to most questions in life.
So, let’s try a bit harder to help others, and (politely) challenge each other on behaviours that don’t help us or them.
We might just make the world a better place, and I don’t see any other way.
After all, history is littered with examples of horrors when we just keep quiet.
So, please speak up.
Can I help you?
Well, if you’d like to work with a coach who will not make assumptions about you, your background, skills or abilities… but will challenge you to improve your situation and achieve more of what matters to you, let’s have a chat.
All the best for now.
Thanks for dropping in,
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