Self Limiting Assumptions

They say that you need to ask why five times to get to the nub of any given issue. This is the famous “Five Whys” approach to route cause analysis. It’s good. You should do it.

I’m starting to believe that, when it comes to creative problem solving, the whys, whats, wheres, and any other interrogative pronouns you like, can be almost infinite.

Presently I’m working on a little bit of branding work. As always I like to collaborate as much as I can with my clients so I find myself asking lots of questions. Today I was wondering about wellbeing – a central element of the brand – and I realised something. I wasn’t sure what wellbeing meant to my client. I had assumed that I knew. But, of course, wellbeing means something to me but that doesn’t mean it means the same thing to my client. My assumption had closed off an important avenue for thinking about the problem at hand.

Assumptions are pretty much always the enemy. And so it has proven when it comes to my own work; specifically business development.

It’s a little embarrassing for a creativity coach to admit this but I’ve been rather uncreative when it comes to my market. I’ve been assuming all sorts of things about who will and who will not be interested in what I have to offer. This is despite the fact that much of the work I am doing has come from unexpected sources.

Because of these self limiting assumptions I have missed out on business development opportunities, closed off conversations too early and generally been too picky about who I spend the time to talk to.

Don’t be as silly as me. If you have something of value to offer, don’t assume you know who will want or need it. Don’t be afraid to ask the question or explore a possibility that you had previously considered out of bounds. Sure, we have to rule out some things when we need to focus our time and energy but when you’re starting out, as I am, one thing you tend to have plenty of is time and energy. What you need are clients.



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