What if I assumed the opposite?
written by Kent Healy
⇒17 Dec 2010
Uncommon: Too easily and too often we assume our perspectives are the best, most logical, and perhaps only way to interpret the world. But this train of thought is not only fallacious, but perilous. We shut doors of opportunity and growth that we didn’t even know existed.
These consequences apply to our personal lives, our relationships, our businesses, and beyond.
The challenge we face is identifying our own stubborn or ignorant tendencies (acting as the uninformed and misinformed) when they occur. Easier said than done, but possible – and a worthy goal.
Our most common traps, perhaps, are assuming:
- “The way I do things is the only way things can be done.”
- “The way I do things is the best way things can be done.”
This is a very easy and comfortable frame of mind to adopt, but also one to avoid.
In my last post I explored how assumptions preempt behavior. This is an important observation that suggests our assumptions essentially become an operations manual of sorts that shape our perception about what is and is not possible – and even, what is “right” and what is “wrong.”
Therefore, if doing things in the same way we have always done them only leads to the same results we have always gotten, then any advancement or enhancement of our current reality requires a new approach. And this begins with a new belief or assumption; a new way of viewing ourselves and the world.
A compelling challenge:
Never assume the obvious is true. Challenging our assumptions is both healthy and necessary for mental growth and all forms of innovation and progress. The following is one of the most important questions I have asked myself in recent years. As a thought experiment, try asking yourself the same question:
“What would be the result if I assumed the opposite?”
You may find yourself laughing, as I often do, when you realize that many of the things we do — and have done for a very long time — make almost no sense at all. Or better yet, that the opposite of your assumptions may also be true – a rather uncomfortable, but strangely liberating, feeling. But one thing you will certainly discover is that there are many more ways to interpret the world than we previously thought.
What opportunities have you been overlooking?
Below is a fun, interesting, and short (2:42 mins) TED video that concisely illustrates the idea and importance of challenging our common assumptions.
How have assumptions shaped your life? What did you discover when you asked the question above? Please post your comments below.
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