Thursday night, we are sitting at the kitchen table finishing dinner. Feeling stuffed, we stay talking, sharing our day, enjoying each other’s company.
As we talk, excited by my new shoes, I start fixing the laces. While I tie them, suddenly, after 2 years together, my surprised girlfriend asks me something that it never crossed my mind. We were so shocked to discover that we don’t tie our shoes the same way.
It turns out that there is at least more than 1 way to make the knot on our shoes, and that’s exactly how we found out! Something so simple, so irrelevant but yet, very insightful. It may seem obvious now that I bring it up but, think about it.
Every day we tie our shoes, every day we see others with their shoes tied and that’s it, end of the story. Why would we think about it beyond this point, right?
By now I know that according to Ian’s Shoelace Site there are 18 types of knots and 43 different lacing methods that we can do. But the real shocker for me was to realize how deep our assumptions can go. We take so many things for granted that we don’t even recognize it.
It makes sense though, assumptions allow us to simplify our lives. They are based on our experiences, and we file them as we go learning about our world.
Nowhere else are they tested more than when we engage in multicultural environments. In them, our assumptions get magnified and made obvious by their constant collision with those of the hosting culture.
This explains why, after 15 years of living abroad, one of the biggest lessons has been don’t take things for granted. And I tell you, I truly make an effort not to assume things, but after last week’s episode at the dinner table, I can see that I’m far from finished with my development.
With all the implicit rules that our cultures have, chances are, that we assume even more with people of our tribe and even more within our circle of friends.
The issue is that within our home environment, most of our assumptions are supported by our culture; making it very hard to adapt when we start working in multicultural teams. For that, we need to be aware of what can be assumed.
You can do a bit of reflection what are those things but, for the most part only time and experience will tell you exactly what they are.
Our assumptions shape our interactions, our frameworks of learning. They can hold us back and become big obstacles in our careers. Maybe you live abroad right now or getting ready to move, perhaps you are starting your own business, it doesn’t matter, just don’t be afraid of having your assumptions challenged.
Question them, adapt them and maybe even forget them because by unlearning them, you will be able to grow exponentially. Chances are, that there is no right or wrong, just different ways to see life.
Every day we assume that things are the way we see them. These assumptions are deeply rooted in the way we act and think. If we want to succeed, we will need to take them down and open our minds to new possibilities.
Make sure to share in the comments below a similar experience in which you had an “Aha Moment.” Kind of a revelation in which you realized there are more ways of doing the things you do every day.