We are often challenged with problems on a daily basis. Some of them are simple, so we quickly solve and move forward. Others are more difficult, so we settle on some answer and move as quickly as possible. But if we want to be innovative, and make a real change in life, then we need to take a different approach. I suspect the best way to explain this is to give you a brain teaser…
The Two Seater
There is a man driving down the road in a red Mazda Miata. As he is driving, he comes along three people walking. One is his best friend since childhood, one is an old lady who barely has the energy to walk, and lastly there is a beautiful woman he would love to talk to. The problem is that he only has one seat in the car. What does he do?
If he picks up his friend, he is being unkind to two ladies and that is not gentlemanly. Not to mention the poor old lady who can barely walk. RESPECT YOUR ELDERS!!! LOL. So, he can’t pick up his best friend. If he picks up the old lady, then he is doing a good thing, but his best friend may get upset, or worse yet, his best friend may end up with a date with the pretty hitchhiker and not him. So, he can’t pick up the old lady. If he picks up the pretty lady, he may get that date, but again, he left the poor old lady to walk and his buddy will be mad. What to do???
Since he trusts his best friend with his life, he can surely trust him with his car. He pulls his car over, tells his buddy to drive and take the old lady to her destination. He gets out and walks with the pretty lady, securing that date that he wanted. #WINNING
Did You Assume???
Did you assume that he could not give up his car? Most people naturally assume this because they would not give their car up, let alone trade places with someone who is walking. The trick here is that before you even try to answer the question, perhaps a moment to stop and think about the assumptions you are making before you answer. Did you assume:
- the guy could not give up his car?
- anyone left walking would be mad?
- no one would be happy walking?
If you were to stop and think about these questions, you would have come up with an obvious answer.
A Leg Up!!!
This is how new ideas and innovation emerge. Questioning the assumptions gives you a leg up on the problem and the competition. By questioning the assumptions, you are stopping the automatic, conditioned, thinking process and dissecting it. This is you learning to think differently. I heard that worked out for Steve Jobs, so why not let it work for you? If you want a leg up on a problem or a competitor, then take some time to identify and question any assumptions that are being made. That’s where the secret lies.
Wisdom is NOT always about facts and figures, or the ability to recollect something at the drop of a hat. It is about using your experience to tackle the daily challenges in life. Since challenges tend to present themselves on a daily basis, there is lots of fertile ground to question the assumptions. Think of a problem you address every day. It could be the tiniest of things. Let me give you an example…
I use to have two pair of glasses I would wear. One to go out and party with, and another for the work day. They pretty much looked the same and worked the same, but the newer pair was slightly better. I just assumed, “I have two pair, so I will make use of both.” This meant I pretty much had to clean both pair each day, keep a glasses holder on my night stand, and make the decision when to wear each pair. I dropped the assumption that I have two working pair of glasses and had to use them both. I realized I should just use one pair because it is less cleaning, less things on my dresser, and less decisions to make. Simple example I know, but a true example that I questioned just a couple weeks ago and am much happier for it.
Look at any little challenge or problem in your life and ask yourself what you are assuming. When you have the awareness and patience to question the assumptions, you can end up saving lots of time and energy. New ideas will emerge and perhaps a little innovation to boot. Are you assuming this won’t work for you? I challenge you…question that assumption!!!