by Cara Lumen
In Seth Godin’s blog post The theory of the case he puts forth this idea about how to use assumptions to gain clarity:
“Here’s a way to get more strategic.
Instead of arguing for a course of action based on the status quo or your emotional gut, describe the theory of the case.
A is true.
B is true.
If we do C, then A and B should permit us to get D.
The method of this strategic analysis is that you expose your assumptions, you describe your actions and you post the results. This permits your teammates to supply facts that might change your analysis.”
Uncovering assumptions uncovers limiting beliefs
So I did this exercise with my personal life. I wrote down my assumptions about what I think is true and immediately began to clarify or justify or dispel every assumption. Some were about my business, some were about my finances, and some were about how I felt emotionally. None of them were absolute. All of them touched on a concern, and after I wrote down my assumptions and clarified them, I wrote down the action steps I was willing to take.
An assumption is a dangerous jumping off place. The word “assumption” means “something taken for granted”, ‘belief without proof.” It also means an “approved starting point.” So if you are working as a team you better be sure your approved starting point is valid and everyone is clear about the assumptions behind it. And if you are creating a new project or business venture you better get proof that what you are about to create is needed by the people you want to reach. Don’t assume, get the facts.
Clarity is vital
The worst kind of assumption is when we think we know what the other person is thinking – or what they mean by a particular statement or action. Did the person unsubscribe from your mailing list because she did not like what you wrote or was her email or her day or her life simply overwhelming and she cut out a lot of things? You don’t know and you can’t assume without asking.
Not only can you not assume for other people but you cannot assume for yourself. Make an honest list of your assumptions and see how true they are before you start building on them. Write down three assumptions – one about your business life, one about your relationships, and one about your health. Is your business working as it is set up now or does it need repositioning? Are you lonely or do you have fulfilling relationships and if not what can you do about that. Have you given up on getting healthy even as you age? What is your assumption about the aging process? Once you clarify your assumptions you can define your action steps. Question your assumptions; they are partially based on limiting beliefs, not-knowing and wild guesses. Examine them until they are based on the truth.
Assumption also means acceptance of responsibility for something
Then you have to take action. If A and B are true, what C do I have to put in place to turn them in the direction I want? Sometimes talking to someone helps. Explore your assumptions with a friend. Is this really true? Is this how you see it? How else can I look at this assumption to see it in another way? Take responsibility for the assumption. Take responsibility for changing it until it rings true. And take responsibility for taking action based on that assumption.
My son, Chris, gave me some important advice the other day. I found a major change necessary to make and I was depressed about it and saw it as a negative move. He said, “reframe it.” That means I have to find a new vantage point, a new way to perceive it, a way to see the change as positive. I did and I felt better about the upcoming change. When I do look for and see the positive, it becomes positive.
Awareness is vital. I meditate every day to tune in to my inner wisdom. I write posts like this one to figure out things. I journal. I make lists of my assumptions. I look for the signs that are given every day that guide me in the right direction. I jump on the ideas that show up, the impulses that lead me to write something or read something or call someone up. And I am consciously aware of what I receive from others. There is a kindness in the people here that is powerful. I have to up my own kindness game and give back more.
Be open to change
Don’t continue blindly down the path you are on. Examine your beliefs, lay out your assumptions and see if they are true, Reframe how you look at your life, your work, your relationships and see the positive in each. Change what needs to be changed. Release what needs to be released. Embrace what needs to come next.
©2010 Cara Lumen