Home » Change Management » Why We Need to Regularly Challenge Our Assumptions

Why We Need To Regularly Challenge Our AssumptionsThere is a perception that people who are no longer in the middle class are helpless and lazy but that is not the case.  We work very hard and work more than one job and go to the food bank to barely get by and feed our children. Emotionally, since letting go of the middle-class dream and the fear of losing it, I am more at peace and feel an enormous burden has been lifted. I am not saying that I would not like to be wealthy, but the fear of losing everything is not there anymore. ReadersDiget.com Nov 2011, pg 176.

What I loved about this quote was the “surprise” that when they lost a lot of what they had, it didn’t necessarily cause increased distress.  Instead, it liberated them from the burden of responsibility for things that in hindsight, they may have not valued as high as others did.

I’ve had some jobs like this.  It is great to be put in charge and take on larger responsibilities.  The challenge with this kind of promotion is that it might take one away from what it is they really want to do, what they are passionate about.

I read a study sometime ago, that some of the most talented folks in an organization get promoted but then no longer show off that unique talent.  What appears to happen is that when they get that promotion, they then focus on fitting in and getting the next promotion, which often may have nothing to do with what made them so good at what they did in the past.  Some of the most innovative folks become “company men” and we lose the unique contribution they bring to our organization.

We are so sure about what we want to do and why we want to do it.  Often, when circumstances change our situation, we’ll notice that it is not as bad as we expected and find that our misfortune was a blessing.  This mismatch is, in my experience, based upon our assumptions about things and life in general.  Besides just experiencing these bumps in life, one great exercise is to periodically stop and challenge our assumptions.

I always thought I wanted to be an electrical engineer after high school.  I had an interview with an alum of a top engineering school who currently ran his own engineering company.  At the end of the interview he made a key comment that changed my world.  He said that he didn’t hear any passion for electrical engineering in me.  As I walked out the door I realized that most of what I had talked about in answering his questions was about software and computers. The interview made me confront my assumptions and it changed my direction in life.

What assumptions in your project have you challenged lately?

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