Originally published on colinjbrowne.posterous.com on April 17.
Have you ever heard of Ramit Sethi? If not, you should look him up. He has a simple idea which I’ve been putting to the test lately with some startling and delightful results, and I really recommend you give it a go.
He advises you to challenge your assumptions. Ramit’s thinking: we all have things we assume to be true without having any factual basis for believing them:
- There’s no way I can find the time to start my own business.
- I could never run a marathon.
- I don’t have the skills it takes to make a career change.
- If I ask for a raise, my boss will never agree to it.
- She / he would never go out with me.
- There will be so many applicants for that job, I don’t really don’t stand much of a chance.
The list goes on.
We often assume things such as these to be true without any factual basis for those beliefs. Because we don’t believe we can run a marathon, we don’t even find out what it takes. Don’t ask any questions. Don’t quiz the runners who are in our offices (these days, there’s a super fit road fiend in every office) and never begin the training that it would take to achieve that goal.
We just let the assumption guide our actions, because for reasons we have never challenged, we decide that assumption to be the absolute truth.
And I do it too. So do you. We all have assumptions we should put to the test to check that they’re not just nonsense.
Ramit challenges you to take a 48-hour challenge which you can read about on the link below. I really recommend you do it. It’ll give your system of beliefs a badly-needed shake up.
The way it worked for me was simple enough: Last week, I needed some assistance with contacts for a project I am working on and the best place to get that information was from some pretty heavy hitters in the publishing and media fields that I didn’t know very well (or at all in several cases) and who didn’t really have any obligation to get back to me.
The assumption that needed challenging was that they’d be too busy or I would be too unimportant for them to take time out of their schedules to return my email with the advice that I needed.
It needed challenging, so I called it outside for a fight.
And guess what? The assumption lost.
Ten emails to ten virtual strangers and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them came back to me and eight out of the ten offered some genuinely valuable and thoughtful advice.
Amazing. There wasn’t anything in it for them. This wasn’t a business transaction. No, instead, it’s just a fact that people are generally nicer, more generous and more willing to help out when they get a direct request than we think they are. That was an assumption that was well worth giving an ass-kicking.
Anyway, check out what Ramit says here.