I Know What I’m Talking About…Or Do I?


One of the most impactful books I’ve read is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I find that the third agreement is the hardest for me to apply: “Don’t make assumptions”. We are hardwired to run on automatic, and it is when I’m on automatic that I live and breathe my assumptions. I tell myself all kinds of stories which fit my world; and, unknowingly, my world slowly starts to shrink.

In science, however, assumptions (aka hypotheses) are a good thing. They’re the starting point for experimentation as scientists seek to prove or disprove their assumptions. It is an exploration of beliefs and an expansion of possibilities. When I think about applying this approach to my assumptions, it actually excites me as a creative outlet. What can I learn if I question myself? What can we learn if we question one another? Imagine how rich conversations become again.

We’ve started a practice in our house — borrowed from a Brené Brown talk — when knee-jerk reactions occur, and tempers escalate. We say to the other person, “The story I’m telling myself is…” Consistently, we find that our stories don’t compare. This opens the space for a discussion vice a reaction.

When assumptions get out of control, they can create huge divides, wreak havoc on relationships and put people into a tailspin. If those closest to us can so easily get out of sync, imagine what can happen in the workplace and our communities.

This Week: Challenge yourself. When you find yourself entrenched in a stance, examine what assumptions you are making. Do they serve you? What makes you think they are true? What proof do you have? Seek ideas that run counter to yours. Where’s the truth in those? Treat this as a science experiment. I’d love to know your results.

In Next Week’s Post: We will be revisiting Mental Models – another place where assumptions play a huge part.

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