Leadership Thought #304 – Be Wary Of Making Assumptions

February 23, 2012

The Trap of Assumptions. We all make assumptions. We make all… | by Riteek Srivastav | Medium

We all know the danger of rushing to quick judgments or making false assumptions about things, but we continue to do it anyway.  I have heard many speakers talk about the reptilian portion of our brain that is focused solely on survival and keeping us out of harm’s way.  We are hardwired for self-protection.  However, in a world where our day-to-day survival is rarely in question, we need to be careful about allowing the most primal part of our thought process to have too much control.  A knee jerk or gut reaction to stimuli is often not a wise strategy and can end up being problematic.

Thinking can be arduous work. It requires effort and a willingness to fight situational impulses.  At a time when our brain just wants to deal with the instantaneous reality of the here and now, we are asking it to slow down, consider multiple alternatives, and use a contextual filter.    As a leader, you must continually challenge your own assumptions and be open to new ideas.   Sometimes you need to solicit contrary feedback and view things from many different angles.  Too many people practice the “ready, shoot, aim” approach to decision making.  Being proactive does not mean being irresponsible.   You may be trying to hit a moving target and your focus will have to adjust accordingly.

We all reach a point in our careers and lives where we become more confident in our own experience and judgement.  Some of us get to this point far too soon and end up learning some hard lessons along the way.    There is nothing wrong with self-confidence; however, confident leaders are willing to admit what they don’t know.   They actively seek the advice and counsel of others to supplement their own perspective.

Success requires thoughtful action.  Greatness does not happen in a vacuum.   If you are right, then your conclusions and decisions will stand the test of scrutiny and differing opinions.   Confidence in your own opinion is not a bad thing unless it taps into unnecessary fears, is a result of lazy or misinformed thinking or shrouds a lack of relevant experience.  Be wary of jumping to quick conclusions and making rash assumptions.