August 30

“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in while, or the light won’t come in.” —Alan Alda

Don’t allow assumptions to limit where you look for ideas. Challenge them.  

“What if this wasn’t true?”

This can be one of the most powerful questions you ask in the midst of a project. Often, we overlook key assumptions because we are so deep into the work that we can’t see outside of the grooves. That’s when we begin to make key assumptions that limit how we think about ideas and possibilities. We miss obvious patterns that others, with less experience, might be more apt to see.

A way to avoid this trap is to routinely challenge assumptions, even if they’re likely to prove true. It can seem inefficient in the moment to do so, which is why many won’t, but when you stumble upon a false assumption that’s been blinding you it’s like discovering a diamond mine in your own backyard.

Consider a key problem you’re working on at the moment, but are still looking for a needed breakthrough. Now, as you think about the problem, consider any assumptions you might be making about how to solve it. Are there certain methods that you keep going back to, wells of inspiration that are running a little dry, or rules that you are working under that may no longer be relevant, but are still limiting you in some way?

Once you’ve identified one or more, ask “what if this wasn’t true?” Challenge the assumption. You will be surprised at the ideas that arise.

Question: What assumption will you challenge today?

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