Assumptions are similar to beliefs; both are like eyeglasses through which you view the world. Every healthcare leader knows that two eyewitnesses will report differently on the same event. The difference in what they perceived as true is based in personal expectations. Challenging assumptions can unlock the creativity you need for optimizing opportunities and finding innovative solutions.

The Blinders of Assumptions

The lens of assumptions does not improve your vision. Assumptions may be blinders to the potential and opportunity right in front of you. The wrong assumptions can prevent the most talented people from getting the results they want, regardless of their effort.

As a leadership development coach, I work with women who have the skills and passion to make a difference in their organization. We always work together on unproductive assumptions that are holding them back from having more influence.

Challenging Assumptions

To bring your best to any situation, you have to ignore the “phantom rules” that underlie assumptions.

  1. Notice your assumptions. An assumption is anything for which you don’t have actual proof. “If I ask for a raise I will be seen as greedy.” How do you know that is true?
  2. Question your objectives. Ask yourself why you are pursing this goal. What is the ultimate benefit? A useful tool is to insert the word, “because,” after every answer. For example, “Expanding the hospital program is the best way to meet the needs of the under-served, because…
  3. Challenge what it takes to meet your objective. Make a list of the resources you believe are needed. Next, make a list of your assumptions. Then, challenge every point to test its validity. Ask for help from a friend, colleague or your coach to get another perspective.
  4. Adjust your mindset. Remember that what worked in the past may not be your best way forward. Take small steps and start with lower risk situations while you get comfortable with testing your assumptions.

By being conscious of your assumptions, you can reach your goals with new creativity and resourcefulness. The right assumptions can lead to additional influence, impact, and fulfillment.

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