Ever been completely wrong?
Maybe you assume all politicians or car salesmen were alike and then you actually have a really great experience with someone who changes your mind. You realize your expectations and assumptions were a generalized perspective, and now your reality is different. We’ve said before that each of us has our own perspective based on our own experiences throughout our lifetime, but it is a subjective reality. Here’s another way to say it:
Years ago I (Mike) worked for a Fortune 500 company that went into bankruptcy; it was a big shock to about 30,000 employees, as you can imagine. I however, was kept employed for over 3 years after they were dissolved, working for a trust that had taken over the bankruptcy. My job was to work with about 30 attorneys who were collecting receivables. I compiled data and helped make sense of what was owed to the trust. I then had to communicate and explain that data to the attorneys so they could take the legal action necessary to collect the money.
Now honestly, my overall perspective of attorneys going into this work was not a very positive one. But most of them were pleasant, caught on quickly, and required very little of me. However, there was one attorney who kept asking more and more questions. So I spent an inordinate amount of time giving him more data, I changed how I color coded the 1000’s of lines of data in spreadsheets in an effort to better accommodate him, and I talked on the phone with him all of the time. I got to be pretty frustrated with him. I assumed he was just lazy and wanted me to do all of his work for him, rather than him take the time to do it himself. “Just do your job” and “why am I doing your work for you” were my thoughts about him.
One day, we were talking on the phone regarding about the third case file we had worked on together. I had already sent him a spreadsheet that I had color coded just for him and made special notes on so he would have a simple, clear, and easy to read explanation. After we had talked for a while, and he was still asking questions, the conversation went something like this:
Me: See the cell that is color coded yellow? And the one next to it that is blue?
Attorney: No, I don’t.
Me: What? You don’t see the colored cells?
Attorney: No. I don’t see the colors.
Me: (thinking the colors didn’t go through in the email) So, the colors didn’t come through?
Attorney: No, I don’t see colors.
Me: (thinking I’m pretty smart – I finally get it!!) Oh, are you color blind? So you can’t see it?
Attorney: No. I can’t see. I’m blind.
Do you know the definition of assumption?
A thing that is accepted as true or certain to happen,
but without proof.
Assumptions and preconceived expectations can really blind you as to what is true. Imagine my shock! My brain exploded with this paradigm shift of new information about this man’s work ethic and intelligence. He had spent hours going over thousands of lines of data, and he had memorized hundreds of totals of numbers using sophisticated software. All of my assumptions about him were shattered.
My subjective reality completely transformed. My perspective had been based on assumptions, not on truth. I said to myself and to Susan, “How is it possible that I worked with this person for months and had no idea he was blind?” I certainly had a new respect and greater understanding for the work he had done without having the ability to literally see all the data I had been sending him. And now I was given the opportunity to adjust my perspective of how I worked with him in the future, and to let go of assumptions and expectations for our mutual benefit.
Looking back, I wonder who the blind one really was. Tell us in the comment box below about an altered reality you’ve experienced in the past.