You’re always assuming.

You can’t help it. 

You read the title of this blog and you undoubtedly assumed any of the following: 

  • What the Tuesday Tip is about
  • Whether it’ll be of value to you 
  • Whether it was worth your time 
  • Which member of the TTG team must’ve written it

The human brain is always in the tiring rat race of managing threats in our environment, in order to keep us safe.

So, in an effort to do exactly that, our brains fill gaps in knowledge or insight with juicy assumptions. 

These can be defined as ‘calculated guesses’ often based on previous experiences, with a sprinkling of our own personal biases and preferences. 

Now, before you feel doomed to living under the thumb of your endless assumptions, here’s the thing…

Assumptions are completely normal and even natural.


Because we cannot possibly know everything at any given time and if we believe we do, it’s a sign that we truly don’t. 

The not-so-great news? 

We are constantly using unchallenged assumptions to:

  1. Take action 
  2. Communicate to each other 
  3. Think thoughts and build ideas 

This is when assumptions become dangerous (and costly).

If unchallenged, our assumptions can lead to decisions that completely shift the direction of our businesses and impact the lives of millions of people for years to come. 

What to do? 

Two things…

  1. Be aware of what you’re assuming – As you go about your day-to-day tasks (both personal and professional), gently pause in that moment and ask yourself ‘what assumptions have I made about what I’m looking at or what I’m doing. Sometimes the assumption is as basic as ’if I send this to Ntando this afternoon, she will probably send it back after three days’

University of South Wales’ Professor Ruth Norway says the role of research is to help us challenge what we think we already know, and I couldn’t agree more. That’s why step 2 is key.

2. Challenge – Ask yourself the simple question ‘what’s a different way to see or do what I’m seeing or doing now’? And then to take it a step further, challenge yourself to take the alternative view or action. 

From preparing your favourite sandwich, mentoring a bright-eyed colleague, to the seemingly mundane task of writing up a report, HOW we do what we do and whether we succeed or need to try again come down to challenging small, hidden, but dangerously powerful assumptions. 

In a fast-paced world, assumptions will continue to be the bedrock of any and all actions we take, so the idea is not to avoid them – only to consistently be aware of what they are and then intentionally challenge existing ones for new ones. 


Northway R. The power (and dangers) of assumptions. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. 2019;23(2):147-148. doi:10.1177/1744629519849974

In the face of disruptive change, Zanele, author of today’s Tuesday Tip, assists organizations to become future fit: adaptable, resilient, innovative, proactive and confident through helping them crack the unlearning code.

She does this by facilitating the understanding that learning, unlearning and relearning must be the crux and heart of an organisation’s DNA if they are serious about being future-fit.

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