assumptions made // reality unknown

Ugh. Saturday morning and the shiny screwhead caught my eye. The screw was buried deep in the shoulder of the tire. Fortunately, it was still holding air, but it would probably be a slow leak.

I pulled the wheel and took it in to the tire shop. They confirmed my fears – unrepairable; too close to the sidewall. They didn’t have the brand/size in stock so they’d have to order one and it would arrive Monday. Double ugh. Their price was reasonable, but it’s a performance tire and reasonable and cheap are two different things. Triple ugh.

Sunday morning and I’m out on a run. In a moment of oxygen depleted clarity I realize: I made some assumptions, but never verified them. The tire shop took me at my word that the tire needed to be replaced.  The tire was unrepairable, but only if it needed to be repaired. There is a screw in the tread, but I don’t know how far in it goes. The tire itself could be undamaged. The tire was holding air, which a punctured tire will sometimes do. So will an unpunctured tire.

I made some assumptions, but never verified reality.

How often does this show up at work?

We hear a credible sounding rumor and make decisions about it as though it were fact.

We ballpark some numbers until we can get better information but then forget to go back and adjust.

We treat our favorite solution to a problem as though it is the only solution, forgetting that there may be other (and better) ways of going about it.

We fear the worst, assume the worst, and react the worst… before anything has even happened.

We speculate something to someone, they pass it along to someone who a passes it along again until our original rumor is mentioned to us as fact. In our minds, our speculation was confirmed, when the reality was that someone just told us the rumor that we’d started.

Someone tells us how difficult or unreasonable a customer is so we go in with either a defeatist attitude or a chip on our shoulders.

An idea is shot down because, “We tried that before and it didn’t work.” (Yes, tried it halfheartedly by someone with less skill under completely different circumstances.)

We don’t take on something we’re really excited about because we have ourselves convinced that we’ll fail.

We’ll rarely have perfect information, so assumptions can be useful. Make the assumptions, but check the reality.


  1. “Someone tells us how difficult or unreasonable a customer is so we go in with either a defeatist attitude or a chip on our shoulders.” This applies to both internal and external customers. It’s happened a few times when I’ve joined a company where I’ve been warned about a co-worker. “Watch out for her.” “you won’t like her, nobody does”, “He’s the spy”. And yet, some of those supposedly terrible people turned out to be the ones I trusted the most and continued contact with after I moved on. Keeping an open mind keeps possibilities and opportunities open as well.


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