Drop an Assumption

Quote of the Week

“Telling the future by looking at the past assumes that conditions remain constant. This is like driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror.”

— Herb Brody

Drop an Assumption

by Roger von Oech

“Folklore has it that explorer Christopher Columbus challenged some Spanish courtiers to stand an egg on end. They tried but were unable to keep it from rolling over. Columbus then hard-boiled the egg and squashed one end of it to create a base. Not fair, the courtiers protested. ‘Don’t be silly,’ Columbus replied. ‘You just assumed more than you needed to.’

Assumptions are one of the mind’s great success stories. They allow us to anticipate what will happen in a variety of situations and prepare appropriately. If, for example, your boss has been grouchy the last nine Monday mornings, then you’ll probably assume that this coming Monday morning isn’t the ideal time to ask for a raise. The trouble with assumptions is that the past isn’t always a reliable predictor of the future. The more assumptions we make, the more likely we are to see only what we expect to see, and the less likely we are to find the unexpected (von Oech, 2002, p. 32).”

Reference: von Oech, R. (2002). Expect the Unexpected (or you won’t find it): a creativity tool based on the ancient wisdom of heraclitus. New York: The Free Press.

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114, http://leadershipcenter.osu.edu.

Coaching Call to Action

What are some of your assumptions? This week let at least one assumption go and see what unexpected opportunities appear.