One of the funnier situations during business school was the cold call. A professor with an engaged class would be racing through an intense discussion, getting inputs from around the room, and—usually with a particularly pointed question—call on a student whose mind had wandered.
Usually, in these moments, the student would pause, and thoughtfully say, “It depends.”
And the joke was that the answer to EVERY QUESTION in business is “It depends.”
It’s funny because it’s an easy response to a cold call. But it’s important, because our decisions always depend on our assumptions. An implicit idea in business is that people with the same assumptions will share the same answer.
Which means that our assumptions are the most important factor in leading us to a good answer.
And here’s the impact of this statement for those who want to change or grow: first we’ll need to change our belief about one of our assumptions.
Many times, when we ask ourselves what it will take to get from where we are to where we want to be, we start our thinking with an action. We need to do more, or do something new. Or we need to stop doing something that is preventing our progress that we love to do.
Instead, we should start with our assumptions. What are the assumptions that are the foundation of our current state of affairs or position in life? What belief would have to be different for us to get where we want to go? How can we change it? And are we willing to change our beliefs when the situation changes?
Increasingly, I see that an unwillingness to change our mind leads us to be stationary where we are, instead of on the road to reaching our goals. Our actions flow from our beliefs, from the assumptions we hold to be true and the conclusions we reach as a result.
Here are a few examples:
No one will be interested in what I have to say.
No one would pay me for this product instead of making it themselves.
If I can do this, then anyone else could do it too.
Misjudging these assumptions—particularly with regards to our own unique value—prevents us from taking hold of the exciting possibilities of our lives. It stops us from reaching our goals and realizing our dreams.
Don’t let outdated beliefs stop you from moving forward.