Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Fact or Assumption?

Our first Halloween together, my husband and I stocked up on candy for the kids in the neighborhood.  I set the bowl by the front door a few days in advance, loaded up with a variety of chocolate bars - the good stuff.

The morning of the big day, there was a distinct drop in the level of candy in the bowl.  Considering it was a weekday, I assumed my husband must have been packing some of the candy in his lunch for work. 

Or at least I did, until he asked me, "Been hitting the candy pretty hard, haven't you?"  He had made the same assumption about me.

It was just the two of us living in the house at the time, plus the cat, who had no affinity for sweets.  Who was taking the candy?

Mighty Mouse, that's who.  We found the pile of wrappers and half eaten candy bars with tiny teeth marks behind the couch.  After informing the cat that he was falling down on the job, we put the rest of the candy in a safe place until the Trick-or-Treaters arrived.  Mighty Mouse was caught the next day and relocated to the great outdoors.

I'm reminded of this story today because it's Halloween, and mouse season, and because it's good to be mindful of our assumptions.

Assumptions come from a place of logic based on our past experiences, our general knowledge of the world around us, and the regular patterns of our everyday lives.  Our assumptions are wrong when we're missing key information or when emotion clouds logic.

Coaches working with people going through challenging transitions are especially mindful of assumptions.  Emotions are running high and the environment is changing, hitting on both risk factors for error.  A good coaching question to ask during this time is "How do you determine if that's a fact or an assumption?"

The question reminds us that we sometimes confuse assumption with fact, and that we have the ability to do the sleuth work to tell the one from the other.

Wishing you a happy, safe, and mouse-free Halloween.   

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