Welcome to 2017, and a Happy New Year to you.
Considering the year ahead
Even if you are not a practitioner of new year’s resolutions, it’s likely that you will be undertaking some kind of forward planning, either at work or at home. You have probably already had some conversations around what you are hoping for in the year ahead, what you want to do that you didn’t get around to last year, and perhaps some business planning and envisioning.
Working with your “because” building blocks
As you are doing all this, you may like to feed the following into your cognitive mix. Start by thinking about what you do or what reflects your normal pattern of behaviour or thinking either individually, as a team, or a business. You could start by listening out for every time you, a friend, or colleague, express thoughts in terms like these:
“We avoid this because….”
“We started down this route because…”
“We have to do it this way because….”
At the end of every “because” there will be a reason. Underlying every reason is an assumption which effects that particular “because.” Every underlying assumption constitutes part of the foundation on which your “because” is built. And underlying that assumption is another, deeper, assumption about the way the world works – why, fundamentally, things have to be the way they are.
Reviewing your assumptions
As you explore these assumptions you will make some discoveries – discoveries which will fall somewhere within the following range of options:
- Some of these assumptions are entirely valid and provide a secure basis for the way we do life, work, relationships, our service and our vocations.
- Some of these assumptions were probably valid once, but have had their day.
- Some were true for the people from whom we assumed them for ourselves, but were never true for us.
- Some of these assumptions were never true in the first place.
Valid and invalid assumptions
A valid assumption will have some basis in fact, or a reasonable conclusion at the end of a chain of evidence or logical argument. If you are currently thinking about an assumption and can’t find that objective basis, you may be looking at an assumption which is currently invalid.
Liberating and limiting assumptions
As a rule of thumb you might also ask yourself whether the assumption is liberating or limiting. A liberating assumption is generally one that opens up new possibilities, or is one you can build on. A limiting assumption is likely to be one that stops you from making progress, developing, or expanding into new and creative areas, or keeps you from addressing important questions.
A good time to review your assumptions
Now is a good time to review your assumptions. Here’s my basis for that assumption.
- It’s the start of the year when you will be making some decisions which will effect the direction of travel for the year ahead.
- You’ve probably had a holiday which has helped clear your mind and given you a greater sense of mental space , allowing for some more objective thinking.
- A significant part of my working life, and that of my colleagues, involves helping liberate people from limiting assumptions.
A coaching conversation is a powerful environment in which to unearth your assumptions. Nancy Kline’s excellent work around incisive questions is a great place to start your own personal or corporate review of the assumptions underneath your “because.”
Allow me to wish you an insightful 2017.