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When you start a project, you take time to write down all of the assumptions. All of those things that you agree to assume will be taken care of, won’t be taken care of, or will go in a certain way.
But, what about life?
How do your assumptions impact your way of viewing the world? How you interact with others? Your work?
I’ve been noticing how many assumptions we really make in life. And, was surprised to read a book recently where the author casually mentioned that “assumptions are the lowest form of knowledge.” What? Yikes. That is a thought to ponder… and consider.
So, what have you been assuming? And, are those assumptions coming from your own experiences, culture, political leanings, religion, neighborhood, and default understanding of the world.
It could be a time to question these assumptions. Or, at least research to find some evidence for them.
Tune in to hear some of mine.
Episode 133 Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark Episode 133. The assumptions this podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? Yeah. Once upon a time in a far away land, there was a little girl that was eight years old that wanted to create a lemonade stand. And the far away land was Nebraska and the little girl was little Rebecca and I’ve probably talked about my lemonade stand before because it was such a meaningful experience in my life. I think it was my first very clear attempt at being an entrepreneur. I was very lucky because we had frozen lemonade in the refrigerator. I got to use it. I got to put it in the blender. We’ve got to take out the cups outside, put up a little table, sit out there in our lawn chairs and wait for customers. I made a little sign and the paper boy came by and some neighbors and the twin paper girls. And I think I sold out because I had to go in and make some more lemonade and we were lucky to have some more frozen lemonade. And somewhere in that process, I was standing in the kitchen with my mother and she was talking to me about how I didn’t make as much money as I may have thought from the lemonade stand because I had not considered the price of all the things involved. I had assumed that of course my parents would provide the lemonade and let me use the blender and the cups and napkins and all of these things, but if I had to purchase them to put this lemonade stand out on the street, I probably would have lost money and wouldn’t have any profit. And for some reason that conversation stuck with me now, I wish I could say that from that point forward, I was really good at not assuming things and that I never used anything of my parents or siblings, but that would be wrong. Mm Because I continue to assume that certain things in the house were at my disposal and I would use them and I don’t think I’m alone in that. And as I’ve been thinking about assumptions lately, I’m really surprised at how much we assume on a day to day basis. Even a teenager coming home from school and saying, hey, mom or dad, could I make some cookies? Like I just want something to eat or make a pie, whatever. And the parents say, yeah, we’re assuming the ingredients are there were consuming, that’s the best use of those ingredients in the moment. We’re assuming that this is no problem for the parents And we’re just assuming that just because it’s accessible means it can and should be used by you for your needs. Now you could think, okay, Rebecca that’s a little extreme. At the same time, this is something that comes up a lot in project management because when you walk into a project, you may assume that a client is going to do or not do certain things. I remember working in online product development for years and I was surprised at how many of the government contractors expected the government to purchase their development tools. And as a contractor, I thought it was a little weird and as a government person, I thought I was a little weird because I thought, well if you’re claiming to have this capability, why don’t you already have the tool? Alright. If you say you can develop the stuff, develop it right? You should already have the tool. Well, that’s not the case, right. You can have the skill to actually create products, but that doesn’t mean you have all of the tools available, right? You can be an amazing artist, but you might not have any painter brushes, but the minute someone put some in front of you, you’ll be able to produce something or if you go purchase them, right. But there’s kind of this unused capability until the right tools are made available. And often we’d find out that yes, the course developers had the abilities that they were using other tools. They weren’t using the ones that we wanted them to use. And so it did make sense for us to purchase them and it did make sense for us to maintain the use of them because they were using other tools to help other people, but what they did have with them was the experience and the capabilities to create what they created and whatever tool was provided. But so often we could make these assumptions. You could have someone come to your home right now to fix something in your house and you would assume that they would have all the tools to do the job most likely. What if the guy came to put on the roof and he’s like, oh you know what I thought that you as a homeowner would be providing the nails and the hammer. Mhm. And most of time people be like what I thought you were going to provide it. Now this is very easily remedied by having communications take place right to decide who was providing what and maybe the contractor is providing the nails and the hammer. But they’re going to charge the homeowner for those supplies because they’re involved in producing the roof. But for the convenience of everyone, the rougher will go by those and bring those to the location versus having the homeowner go do it. But these are situations that really point out how much we can assume. And I read a book a few weeks ago, I wish I remember the author’s name but she said in the book assumptions are the lowest form of knowledge. And I wrote that down because I was like wait a second what I really had to think about that for a minute. And then of course I went to my trusty online dictionary which for me basically means just doing a search and whatever comes up is what I read right? But an assumption is a thing that is accepted as true or is certain to happen without proof. That that was so interesting because then what is the difference between assumptions and faith right? There’s a difference. You can think about what you think the differences are right. But faith is hoping for things that aren’t seen and you don’t have proof but you really hope that will happen right? But whatever you have faith in is true. But assumptions could be different. It’s almost like us with assumptions you are assuming someone else is going to take a certain action or someone else is going to provide something which they may or may not be planning on doing. And I am going to assume uh huh that with assumptions we aren’t curious enough to find out if the assumption has any legs on it has any proof. Any evidence. So interesting. So a few weeks ago I wrote down a couple of things on a piece of paper because I thought I was going to talk about assumptions. Then I was curious about assumptions in different parts of life. So for politics I wrote down the assumption that when you say certain things people assume you have certain political views even though there’s all of these issues that could be in each political party. If certain words come out of your mouth in certain ways, people assume you have a certain view. Is that a familiar assumption to you in life? We have assumptions based upon our experiences based upon our culture, what country we live in? Here’s some that I have heard. All kids should play in dirt. All kids should have their own bedroom. The american dream is to own your own home. You need to go to college, you need to get a good job, get a full time job, that’s normal. You should change faster. They should just get over their addiction. Why don’t they just study harder? It would all work out oh it’s cold so they won’t like it, it’s too far. There’s a lot of judgments mixed in with this too with religions, there’s so many assumptions, oh you are this so you must dot dot dot right or oh because you believe this, you’re probably a certain political party or you probably wouldn’t allow this activity or whatever. Now some of these things are actually true. But remember that each person has their own individual choices to make in life regardless of where they live, what their politics are, what their religion is, what their height is or their size. We all have a choice. We’re not all in one blob going all around thinking all the same things hopefully and doing the things just because we associate with a certain group, so many assumptions with work, I see this a lot, assuming the job will be exactly like the job posting or assuming your boss will take time to mentor you or connect you to a good mentor, You assume your boss is going to care about your personal growth in the way you need to grow versus how the organization’s perceives growth should go. And one of the biggest assumption in my line of work is drum roll that you will have a computer the first day of work, I’m laughing because this should not be hard, but I can tell you over the years it’s like this huge miracle when that happens and I don’t care what employer it is right? Like for some reason there’s always some weird mix up with laptops or something, right? People have like two months for a new employee to arrive, they still won’t get it right, they have three weeks, won’t get it right, two weeks, one week, sometimes they get it right when it’s one or two days heads up, it’s crazy how that works. But the assumption is that if you are working in a job that requires technology that you will have a computer the first day of work and that’s just not. So so all of these different assumptions at work, this really hit home to me when I was hearing over and over a few months ago that my child needed room to grow and play and do all these things outside and how Children need big yards and that kind of thing. And I was thinking about it. I’m like, wow, that’s a huge assumption. And that assumption is coming from a culture that valued having homes valued having big yards, that kind of thing. Because guess what the reality in the world is? Most Children do not have a backyard. Most Children do not have their own bedroom. Most Children do not live in a single family home. Look at any documentary where it talks about families are as following anything in the lives of anyone in china or in India or europe or south America anywhere, choose any country. All right. And you will note that most people live in apartments or condo type apartment structures, whether it’s purchased or rented. Most Children in the world do not live in a single family home. That’s super crazy for me to think about because that wipes away a whole lifetime of assumptions right there. When I drive around the Washington Dc area, I notice how many high rises there are that people are living in and if they’re not living in a high rise, they’re living in a town home And the town homes can be anywhere from 200,000 to 3 or four million depending, but they’re still a town home, they’re still stuck to another house with a very small yard and some places are lucky and there’s a local park to go to right there might be a place for kids to play in the dirt. Or people can go to golf courses or they can go to public places to walk along the river. But think about that. Most Children in the world do not live in a single family home. If you do, you are actually quite rare. So fascinating. And that seems like a little thing. But for me, it demonstrated how some things that I just think our facts and don’t even question are actually assumptions. And remember, assumptions are the lowest form of knowledge. I would encourage you today to take some time to think about the conversations you’re having and pay attention to how many assumptions are in those conversations. Are you assuming someone’s life should go a certain way? Are you assuming your life should go a certain way? Are you making assumptions about things? And if you are, that’s okay, we all do it. But to notice and go wait a second, I need to think more about this. I need to be curious about this. Is this really true? Or is this just my perception of the world? And is it okay to have that perception of the world? What I am finding in this process is that if I step back and question myself and my assumptions and pay attention to the assumptions other people are making it actually opens up my mind and I end up blowing my own mind and going, oh, I never questioned that before. Maybe I can question that now. And maybe this will open up the door to more curiosity? Maybe this will open up the door to more understanding of someone that I’m interacting with and realize, oh maybe there’s nothing wrong here. Maybe this is going differently than I expected and maybe that’s okay. Maybe there’s something that can be learned. I am encouraging students to do this with projects. They’re writing down tasks and they think that’s all that needs to be done. I’m like, well, wait, that comment right there assumes that all these other things are taking place, like when they write down, oh, we’ll gather a couple people to help us move the furniture back into the room. Well, that’s a big assumption that people are going to be around, that people are going to be available. Oh, and that they’re gonna want to help you move. Mhm. What’s in it for them? Right. So many assumptions we can default to and we might do that because it’s worked in the past. Or has it maybe we’ve assumed it’s worked because it’s gotten us an immediate outcome we want, but maybe it’s not working long term because maybe those that allowed your assumptions to prevail aren’t willing to do that. Again, So many interesting directions to go with these assumptions. So pay attention this week on the assumptions do you have going on and figure out if those assumptions are serving you or not, and to decide what to do with that? Is it time to gather more evidence or information and make a different choice? Or maybe you just wonder and go, oh, that’s fascinating. I didn’t realize most kids in the world didn’t live in single family homes now. I know. Okay, nothing’s wrong here. That’s just interesting. Oh, how lucky am I that I’m in a house. There’s no reason to think I’m less than because I’m in a town home or an apartment or anything. I’m like a lot of people just figuring out the best way to live and in your work, making sure that you don’t assume that your boss or your co workers are going to be a certain way. Don’t assume that you have certain privileges or don’t assume that it’s this bad everywhere. So many assumptions. Take a look at it and share what you think. Okay, I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it. I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at move your desk dot com. Mhm mm