I love it when I meet someone who challenges my assumptions.
A friend of mine invented the computer code that makes online stock trading possible. He thought broker-based trading was unfair so he did something about it. You can do that?!
A friend of mine bought a vintage barn and moved it across town to his backyard so he could cover his fixer upper sailboat (which he’d trucked 740 miles inland from San Diego to where he lived) while he refurbished the sailboat. You can do that!?
His next door neighbor bought several industrial ovens and started an artisanal bread baking business out of his garage which advertises exclusively on social media and they only hand deliver. You can do that?!
A friend who is a generation older than me told me how he bought businesses, fixed them up and sold them again. He’d studied business. I’d studied music. You can do that?!
I remember the first time I rock climbed at night. My partner and I were hanging from a few bolts several hundred hard-won feet up. It was either repel down with 200 pounds of gear, sleep hanging in our harnesses or climb up to a ledge in the dark. He said, “You want keep climbing?” You can do that!?
I climbed with a guy in Yosemite, Will, who came to the U.S. from Finland via the Caribbean. He worked as crew on a sailboat to get passage and save money. He lived in a one-man tent and traveled the country—carrying all his belongings—on a bicycle. His biggest expense was food. You can do that?!
We’re going to Maui next month to spend some time with new friends who live off grid with their five kids for less than $1,000/month. They fuel their cars with vegetable oil and eat produce that grows naturally all around them and every now and then they cook up one of the many wild chickens that come across their property. You can do that!?
I’ve been reading Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and I’ve been really intrigued by these three words: behaviors follows assumptions. Again: Behavior follows assumptions. So what intrigues me about this? A handful of things. I want to know, what are my assumptions? What do I do just because I assume something is the way it is? And what are things I don’t do because I assume things are the way they are.
Steve Jobs famously talked about how malleable the world was.
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That's a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.”
What might be blinding me to possibilities in my own life? These can be called blind spots or (if you’re into business books) black swans. What are the things that don’t even enter my head? If you’ve seen The Matrix, you get it.
And there’s a flip side to this idea of blind spots or assumptions and that is this: the fish is the last one to discover water. Liz Wiseman also talks about this concept in her book Multipliers. There are some things we each do well, effortlessly and willingly, because they come naturally to us. And we don’t even realize they are a strength or skill because we assume they are common sense or common place to everyone around us. I imagine a heist movie with the team assembled. Every member of the team has a special skill that comes naturally to them. In their case, they’ve identified their special skills and are putting them to use. They know the water in which they swim.
My daughter Lily can introduce herself and talk to anyone, without fear. If the Orton family were a heist team, I’d call her The Ice Breaker. She assumes people will like her and that she will like them. Behavior follows assumptions. And yet she doesn’t think this is a special skill. The fish is the last one to discover water.
I’m trying to figure out what my assumptions are as well as my natural skills. What are my blinds spots and what is the water in which I swim. I’m creating lists for both areas. Will you help me? If you’re wiling to respond to either of these questions, and help me identify both blinds spots and water invisible to me, I would love to hear from you. (firstname.lastname@example.org. Try to be nice : ) And I dare you to make your own list and ask someone you trust both of these questions. I’d love to hear what you find out.