The trap of your own assumptions
Life is a dynamic process. We all need to take many a decision while at home or work. Our decisions are influenced by our assessment of the...
Life is a dynamic process. We all need to take many a decision while at home or work. Our decisions are influenced by our assessment of the possibilities, which, therefore, are critical to the process.
If our assessment is wrong, our decisions are bound to go wrong. Often, our assessment stems from subjective thinking. Subjectivism is a human attribute that causes distorted thinking. Concrete study of concrete conditions is the essence of objective thinking.
We have to first analyse the concrete conditions and their impact, or otherwise, on the decision we need to take. If our assessment is faulty, our decisions can boomerang.
Let me cite an instance to elaborate the point. My nephew sought my advice when he wished to start a transport business. The happening city can support more such business ventures was his argument. Of course, one cannot quarrel with his hypothesis!
However, if you study the transport sector threadbare, one comes across an equal number of success stories and examples that have gone bankrupt. If a business idea has potential, why should there be different results for different individuals.
Although, the market is the same, performances of each enterprise is varied. There should be some reason for this. Being oblivious of this economic phenomenon and hypothesising that anyone and everyone who is engaged in transport business would succeed is a mistaken notion.
That is precisely why there is a need for concrete study of concrete conditions and their impact. My nephew was subjective in his thinking and refused to heed my well-reasoned advice.
Normally, when we have a subjective thinking, we take a call and interpret any evidence in a manner in which our predetermined notion is substantiated. Subjective thinking leads to subjective interpretation of evidence too.
My nephew is a software engineer and has little time to monitor the transport business. He has only couple of vehicles with him. He does not have reliable drivers. All these factors are a recipe for disaster, as they say.
Yet he started the business and burnt his fingers Combating subjectivism should be an ongoing struggle within individuals and even organisations.
Subjectivism is an improper style of study that leads us to erroneous assumptions and incorrect actions. Therefore, subjectivism is incompatible with successful individuals and organisations alike.
If we are subjective in our thinking, we fail to identify the problems that we may encounter. The more the problems one would elucidate, the greater will be the achievement, provided we solve those problems. A solution to the problem begins by defining it.
People who think subjectively look at only one side of the reality and gloss over the other dimensions. All of us suffer from such selective exposure and selective perception. This selectivity is only to reinforce pre-determined belief.
In the case of my nephew, he only saw the booming city offering huge potential for the transport sector. This generality cannot be one of totality. The concrete aspect is that the compatibility of his concrete conditions to the business he is choosing.
We normally think that we have knowledge of a situation. But, knowledge is formed in two phases. The first is perceptual knowledge, which is essentially theoretical. The second is rational knowledge. It is the knowledge applied to your experience.
To combat subjective thinking, we should constantly refine our knowledge through experience in the field. Experience is the better teacher than gaining classroom knowledge. Theorise your own experiences to gain insights for solving future impediments.
This is the reason why we encounter many who are gold medallists in universities fail in the professions. Bill Gates once said that he is not a gold medallist from any university but, gold medallists from world’s best universities work under him.
Therefore, your decisions should be made up of your own concrete analysis of the conditions than that retold by someone else. A combination of all these would make you to think objectively.
Before you take a decision, verify your own assumptions. Interaction with wide section of people with an open mind to revise your opinion would lead to right conclusions. If you selectively interact with those who concur with your opinion it would not serve the purpose.
Often we decide with emotions and justify those decisions with logic. Look at the reading habits of children. Normally they read what they like and what they know or what they can easily learn.
But, if you ask them why they are reading so, they defend that it is what matters in the examination. Decisions should be based on rational thinking and revised based on what experience teaches us.
Emotional decisions are bad because we tend to take those decisions due to insecurity or ego, or panic or anxiety, etc. Such emotional situations remove reasoning from us and lead us to distorted perspectives.
When we do not know something, we pre-suppose.
Come out of the trap of assumptions. Some leaders have so strong assumptions that they do not allow anyone to question them.
Yet, they interact with people around them. They fail to realise that subordinates often endorse their leader’s assumption especially when they know that the leader does not like challenging his or her assumptions.
Come out of such a web of people. A good leader is one who encourages people who question his assumptions, of course, with pragmatic insights.