Five assumptions to stop making in 2022

Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.

Author, Isaac Asimov, had a very good point.

When we view the world through outdated or tainted lenses, the assumptions we make, could be, largely, and quite frankly, wrong.

Adam Grant alerts us to this point in his latest book, Think Again, where he asks us to rethink our assumptions about pretty much everything. Grant says that the best minds are those that are willing to rethink their assumptions and change their opinions.  We’ve always agreed with this; The best leaders are the ones who can willingly admit when they’re wrong and be open and vulnerable about it.

Grant has a long list of common assumptions, that may be wrong.  Here are five – and hopefully they challenge you to think a bit differently and possibly encourage a bit of ‘unlearning’.

  1. Experience is everything

The findings from a meta-analysis (see the data here) that compares the previous experience of job candidates to their actual performance doing the job, proves otherwise.  According to Grant, it’s how well people can learn to do a job, not how well they’ve already done it.

This is important because even before interview processes starts, recruitment selection may well rule out some of the best people to do the actual job, because they don’t have the stipulated experience.

  1. When you rest you take the pedal off the gas

Instead of rest being something you do, when you’ve pushed so hard you need to take a break, rest should be something that’s part of your plan of action. Regular rest intervals provide the fuel to keep goings, so even if you don’t think you’re tired – build rest into your routine will only help you go further and achieve more.

  1. Write when you have something to say

Yes, absolutely write when you have something to say. Write a blog post, a memo to your team, a letter to a friend. But also write when you don’t know what to say.  Grant explains the benefits of ‘writing to think’ clearly:  “Writing exposes gaps in your knowledge and logic. It pushes you to articulate assumptions and consider counter-arguments…One of the best paths to sharper thinking is frequent writing.”

  1. Facts and data will change people’s minds

Grant argues that using evidence and facts to get people to agree with your point of view, is actually quite ineffective. He recommends an approach called ‘motivational interviewing’. This is really just about asking open ended questions and a taking a learning approach to a conversation. Instead of going into a discussion with the goal of getting somebody to change their mind; you should approach the conversation with the intention of understanding and learning more about their beliefs. This coaching style of conversation is unthreatening and encourages people to listen, without feeling the need to defend themselves. And, on the flip side, you might open your mind to another point of view too!

  1. Align to people with the same vision and values

We’re always told to spend time with people who share our views and vision – like-minded people.  But there’s significant value in spending time with people who disagree with you, but whose intellect you respect.

These are the people who will keep you challenging your perspectives and contribute to a broader worldview.

Here’s a link to where Grant challenges 16 more common assumptions.