Assumptions + Awareness

Hello Friends!

I had my mind blown last week. I was at the doctor for my annual check-up and happened to mention that my lungs were hurting, as they often do, but that’s normal because that’s what happens when you’re fighting off a cold or infection. Turns out, this is not a thing. People’s lungs don’t hurt on the regular, and no it is not a normal sign of an oncoming cold. Who knew?!?!

Apparently everyone. Everyone knew. Only I didn’t. Somewhere along the line I had made the assumption that sore lungs meant getting a cold and just carried on. But you know what they say about assume, right? It makes an ass out of u and me. Well out of me at any rate!! 😉

It turns out that I have asthma. Probably have had for at least 5 years. I’d put the cough attacks down to one thing, the sore lungs to another, the tightness in my chest to yet something else.

It’s pretty ironic that someone who helps people see different perspectives and touts self-awareness for a living isn’t always the best at making the right connections. And I think that that is actually true for most of us!

Self-awareness is the key understanding our strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. However, despite our best intentions, there’s a common hurdle that often goes unnoticed: our assumptions. Recognizing and challenging these assumptions is crucial in bridging the gap between self-awareness and meaningful action.

I have to admit, this “assumption bridge” is really not my forte in my own life, even though it’s something I can be remarkably good at with and for others.

And given that I had my mind blown by this – I mean really, no one feels their lungs?!?! Why did I not know this?!?! – I thought exploring this disconnect of awareness + assumption would be a great theme for this week’s newsletter!


Assumptions can only hinder you if you don’t communicate them. Imagine if I’d talked about my sore lungs years ago! It was so crazy to realize that no one else had experienced this sensation. I could have saved myself years if only I had talked about my assumption. Communication is always key!!

I wish I had read this LinkedIn article sooner:

“In life, we often rely on assumptions to help us understand and make decisions quickly. They’re like mental shortcuts that simplify complex information. But sometimes, assumptions can limit our understanding and hold us back from personal growth. That’s why it’s important to challenge our assumptions. By doing so, we can refine our understanding of the world and open ourselves up to new possibilities.”


One of my favourite sayings is “Your ordinary is my extraordinary.” Meaning that what is absolutely normal – so normal that you might not mention or even be aware of it – could be something extraordinary to me. What is completely obvious to you might be completely off my radar entirely.

As Jen Waldman so eloquently put it in my favourite podcast, The Long and the Short of It

“Just because something seems basic to you, does not mean it’s basic to someone else. And how important is it then, that we communicate really clearly? Because someone else might not have the same fundamental concepts that you have, and they might be working with a completely different foundation.”

Which also then begs the question: how are our assumptions causing disconnects not only with ourselves but with others?

“It’s also making me just think about conversations gone wrong. I’m replaying some old conversations gone wrong and questioning, “Did I make assumptions that the person was working with the same set of details that I was working with, or even just the same philosophies I was working with?” ~ Jen Waldman (episode 235 Obvious to Me)

Imagine how much more impactful our communication would be if we were aware of the assumptions we were making!


How many assumptions are we making as leaders? If we don’t confront our own inner reality and address it, unconscious biases go unnoticed and unaddressed. “Leaders who actively address bias foster a culture of inclusivity and belonging, which helps attract and retain diverse talent and boosts overall employee satisfaction.”
Here’s a look at 17 of the most common biases affecting leaders today. Among them: confirmation bias, authority bias, and fundamental attribution error. We are all likely guilty of many of them!


Adam Grant is really the voice of challenging assumptions. Both his book Think Again and his new book Hidden Potential shine a light on how often our assumptions are proven to be incorrect, and how much we learn, grow, and develop by recognizing the assumptions that are driving our behaviour.

In his podcast, Grant interviewed Tara Westover, the author of Educated, who really walked the talk of assumption challenging by teaching herself how to read and write and then going on to get a PhD from Cambridge, despite growing up in rural America to survivalist parents. It’s a fascinating discussion of perspective, assumptions, and challenging the narrative you were born with.


I genuinely don’t choose books to go with the newsletter theme but my current read again happens to fit quite well! 😉 I’m reading Master Slave Husband Wife by Ilyon Woo. It is the true story of an enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, who managed to escape their enslavers in the mid-1850s disguised as a white man (her) and her servant (him). It is a compelling look into not only how they escaped but the politics of the time. From today’s perspective, the assumptions made about slaves are ridiculous and impossible to get one’s head around. Not easy to understand how those assumptions came to be at the time. Or how they have persisted in many forms even to the present day. A really good read.

I wish you a very happy week ahead!

Be emotional. Stay healthy.



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