“Before you ‘assume’, try this crazy method called asking.”

The year is 2000. I’m in high school. The bell has rung and I’m about to go from choir class to Spanish class. Spanish class has two textbooks which my teacher, Mr. Brown, uses interchangeably. Unfortunately, I’m not sure which one is needed for that particular day. Perhaps Mr. Brown had mentioned it the day before and perhaps he hadn’t. I can’t remember.

I rush to my locker and grab the book I think we’re going to use. I don’t remember how I reached my conclusion for which book to grab but there was a method to the madness. I get one foot in the classroom right as the second bell rings again, barely avoiding a tardy slip.

Five minutes into the lesson, Mr. Brown tells us to open our books. He glances over to my desk and calmly informs me that I brought the wrong book. I immediately become defensive and am ready to launch into the deductive reasoning method I used to pick the book. I’m six words in, “I assumed we were going to” before he cuts me off.

“You do know what happens when you assume, right?” I stare blankly, having no idea what he was talking about. He walks over to my desk with a piece of paper and discreetly writes “Ass you and me.” Of course he wasn’t going to say it loud because he WAS a teacher. But I get the picture as we both slyly grin.

The above story, while true, makes for a good and funny story. But the bigger picture and central idea of the anecdote is worth assessing a little more seriously. All too often, we are quick to assume what we think will be an outcome. This can be caused by fear, nervousness, pessimism or all of the above.

I’ve been a writer all my life but up until a couple of years ago, I never submitted my work because I was sure I wasn’t good enough to be published. My first submission came because a publication directly reached out to me and encouraged me to send something in. Surprise surprise, it was accepted!

When that happened, I regretted not submitting anything earlier because all these years, I had just assumed my writing wasn’t good enough. This experience makes me think that how we all must have lost out on infinite opportunities simply because we assumed it wouldn’t work.

Assumption can also cause miscommunication. If two people don’t talk to each other over an issue that needs to be discussed simply because they assume that the other person is wrong (or even right), the issue will escalate even further. There have been countless times in my life where I didn’t talk to a friend or a loved one because I thought they were upset with me and didn’t want to hear me. In some cases, the former was definitely true but in most cases, the latter wasn’t.

If you think a particular endeavor something is worth checking out, follow your instinct. The worst thing that could happen is it won’t pan out. But you’ll never know unless you try it. Miracles, both practical and spiritual, have occurred in everyone’s lives.

I think it’s important at this point to note that I don’t equate assuming with lack of caution. If a new endeavor, say a business investment, requires you to give a significant amount of resources, money or otherwise, by no means am I implying to jump right in without caution. Always do your research. Examine all possible directions. Assess every step carefully, especially if the road ahead looks a little bumpy.

What I am saying is; draw your conclusions after a full assessment, be it of something positive or negative. Just don’t assume an outcome because of the way a certain situation appears to be.

Has an assumption ever proved to be detrimental to you? Do you assume a lot or do you assess the situation before formulating an opinion? Do you think the points made in this article are valid? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below on our secure servers.

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