We make assumptions every day. We often use assumptions as a shortcut when we lack firsthand knowledge. We assume we know what other people think and this prevents us from learning what they really think. But what we may not recognize is that our assumptions also inhibit us from seeing the truth about ourselves. Why? Because we form strong beliefs and opinions based on assumptions we make about ourselves, and these strong beliefs become our story.
Think about the assumptions you make about your ability to be successful. We know that a positive mindset can help us reach our goals. When we visualize our success we are more likely to be successful. We make assumptions around this positive belief that support us through our careers and give us the fortitude to circumvent any obstacles we may face along the way. We look for signs every day that validate the assumption we will be successful and we celebrate each sign. This is all good!
But what if we make assumptions that we will fail? That we don’t have what it takes. We aren’t smart enough or good enough. What assumptions do we then make about our careers, about the new job we just got? We assume we won’t make it. We look everywhere for validation that our assumption of failure is correct. The result is that we start seeing every challenge as an obstacle that is impossible to overcome. We believe that our failure is inevitable and as a result of our belief, we will fail.
Our assumptions about ourselves drive our behavior for better or for worse. A woman called me the other day and said, ‘Bonnie, I have worked really hard at get ahead and I had an opportunity for a promotion. But last minute I told HR I wasn’t interested in the new job’. I asked her what prompted her to do that. She told me she assumed she wouldn’t get the promotion anyway, that they probably would give it to man or someone younger than she.
When I pointed out that she had no basis for those assumptions, she asked me if I thought it was too late to go back and tell them she still wanted to be considered for the opportunity. Yes, it probably was too late! Her assumptions caused her to walk away from a potential promotion which she had worked for for years.
Assumptions are powerful and can change your career trajectory.
What assumptions do you make about your personal and professional success?
I have a friend who views himself as a victim. The world is always against him. That’s his assumption and it’s amazing to witness how this becomes reality most of the time. I’m sure you know people like this. He loses out on business transactions because there was some sort of mix up. He gets the wrong meal at a restaurant or his steak is overcooked. His application is the one that gets lost. He lives in his victim bubble and it’s so strong he can’t even see opportunities when they arise. He’s always thinking how these opportunities won’t work for him. And guess what? They never do.
When you’re stuck in your assumption bubble you cannot see your way out. You may have lost a job, lost a marriage, lost business because of assumptions you make about yourself and others. Identifying and changing your negative assumptions can alter your story and your life. It’s powerful.