Jumping to conclusions in a time of change

A man looks surprised at being photographedWhen we are children we learn how the world works: we test what happens when we drop our toy; we learn how people respond when we laugh or cry. And after the same pattern has repeated a few times we jump to the conclusion that that is how it will always be.

But in a time of change, the world won’t always work the way it used to.

Jumping to conclusions, without checking the facts, is one of the eight common types of mistaken assumption we can easily make in times of change. The story of David and Goliath provides one familiar example of what can then happen. Our recent politics provides a long list of others.

In times of change, jumping to conclusions is likely to reduce our chances of getting the outcomes we want.

The problem isn’t necessarily whether we turn out to be right or wrong. The problem is that jumping to conclusions makes us lazy: it stops us doing the things that would have helped to create the outcome we want or prepare us better for what else might happen instead.

To avoid jumping to conclusions we need to:

  • check whether we are making any of the eight potential mis-blinks
  • pause and consider what other interpretations might be possible
  • assess which ones are more likely
  • get clearer on what outcome we want and why
  • assign resources and take actions to address our upsides and downsides

We might end up doing exactly the same things and the outcome might be the same. But by following this approach we get clearer on what we really want and we give ourselves a better chance of achieving it.

Have you ever jumped to a conclusion that turned out to be wrong? What were the consequences? Have you jumped to any conclusions recently and is it possible that things might turn out differently from what you are expecting? Is it worth checking?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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Photo By rippchenmitkraut66 via StockPholio.net

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