Familiar territory is the stomping ground for false assumptions

I had a painful reminder of the “Ass-u-me” lesson earlier today.  I was scheduled to meet a contact in downtown Denver.  Not just any contact, but someone I was really, really looking forward to getting to know and learn more about their business.  In his email, he carefully listed the cross-streets and telephone number of the said Starbucks.  Being familiar with 16th street, I filed this away as “the Starbucks by the light rail station”.  And there I arrived 10 minutes early and patiently waited until about 10 minutes after when I remembered there was another Starbucks just 3 blocks away and, sensing a mistake, I hustled down there to try to catch him.  Not until I returned home, disheartened by my mistake, did I get to re-read the email and realize that there was yet another Starbucks another 3 blocks away and he had been there waiting for me.

Take my loss and embarrassment as a timely lesson…just when you are most certain, but least clear, is when your assumptions are most likely to turn you into a you-know-what.  Be clear about your assumptions and do whatever you can to validate them.   Make them part of your daily conversations so that your team members can voice their disagreement when they find you’ve made a false assumption.  And, if nothing else, remember that we are in a Starbucks world: they might all look and feel the same, but they are not all filled with the same possibilities. Choose wisely and remember well.

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