As children we learn to predict the way the world is going to turn out. What will happen if I do this… What is about to happen if a person’s face looks like that. And after the same patterns have repeated a few times we learn to jump to these conclusions: because it makes our lives easier and it helps us to get the results we want. The trouble is, in times of change, the world doesn’t always work the way it used to.
Jumping to conclusions is one of the eight common types of mistaken assumptions we can easily make during times of change. We might jump to conclusions about the way events are going to turn out (such as with the Brexit referendum last year or the recent British general election). We might jump to conclusions about about another person’s attitude or intentions towards us (for example with American and Russian planes flying over Syria this week).
Jumping to either of these conclusions in a time of change can reduce our likelihood of getting the results we want.
The trouble is, in times of change, the world doesn’t always work the way it used to.
The issue here isn’t whether we eventually turn out to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in our assumption. After all, in times of change, the final outcome might not be decided until the very last moment. No, the problem with jumping to conclusions is that it makes us lazy: it cuts us off from taking the actions that could have brought us the results we wanted.
What we need to do instead is remember to check for whether we might be making any of these eight mistaken types of thinking. If we are then pause: consider what other interpretations might also be possible; assess which options are more/less likely; get clear on what outcome we want and why; and then assign our resources and actions appropriately.
We might end up still taking the same actions. The outcomes might be exactly the same. But when everything is changing we cannot jump to conclusions about how anything is going to turn out. Following this approach helps us to get clearer on clearer on what we really want and brings us the best chance of achieving that.
Adapted from Inner Leadership.