For several reasons, I dislike the expression ‘never assume because then you make an ass out of u and me’ but I understand its sentiment.
I was working with a client earlier this week who was considering a new venture. It would mean a fairly major change to both his work and his life and he seemed to feel weighed down by the amount of issues he needed to address.
I noticed that some points he raised he would immediately follow up with ‘but I won’t be able to do that’ or ‘they’re not going to agree that’ or ‘that’s not how it’s going to work out’.
Feeling curious about this, I asked him how he knew that. ‘Well, that’s just the way it is, isn’t it?’ was his reply. ‘But do you know that to be a fact or are you making an assumption?’ I asked. ‘I’m not sure what you mean’, he replied.
Thanks to a handy app, we were able to check out the definitions of ‘fact’ and ‘assumption’ there and then. Here’s what we found:
fact noun 1 a thing known to be true, to exist or to have happened. 2 truth or reality, as distinct from mere statement or belief.
assumption noun 1 something that is accepted as true without proof. 2 the act of accepting something as true without proof.
With these definitions in mind, we decided to take each point and write it on a sticky note, then stick them on one wall if they were facts and another if they were assumptions.
By the end of the session, we had
a) very colourful walls;
b) a list of stuff my client knew to be true and a list of stuff he was accepting as true without proof and thus needed to be clarified.
My client left the meeting room with an armful of action points and a spring in his step.
This is a powerful way of sifting through concerns. Why not choose an issue which you’re wrangling with at the moment, list every element of it which comes to mind and then apply this question to it?
Today’s pebble for your thoughts: Is that a fact or an assumption?
I’d love to hear how you get on.
Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.
If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?