The process of growing into our fullness demands that we deal with reality in a blinders-off fashion. Having the openness to inquire about its substance, we discover far more of value and truth than we otherwise would have by demanding that reality conform to the dictates of our mind. Essentially, these distortions of reality are what come to form our assumptions. Refusing to look beyond the prism of our own knowledge and experience, we forego wonderful opportunities for learning that when integrated into our being, are likely to open up new avenues of constructive action.
Perceiving the world through the narrow lens of the ego, we fail to question as much as we should. Arrogant in our perceived ability to decipher circumstances, and not wanting to appear stupid or weak by asking questions of others, we are held captive by our pride which isolates us from sources of new knowledge and progress. In most, if not all circumstances, there will be people in our immediate environment who have the knowledge and information that we can utilise to generate better results in our area of influence.
Eager and willing to share what they know, all we have to do is ask. An act of humility that allows us to bridge our knowledge deficit, it is what each of us is capable of doing when we disassociate from the ego, which would have us believe that we do not need the help of others who, in one way or another, pose a threat to our identity. The tale that the ego tells, it is responsible for so much of our implicit reluctance to open ourselves to the knowledge of others. Not wanting to experience the vulnerability that true learning requires, we succumb to the perspective that falsely assumes the predominance of ego in those who endeavour to assist us.
Harbouring also the fear of rejection, we choose the safest option of not asking others for those things that will bring us clarity. Pessimistically convincing ourselves that we will receive a ‘no’ response, we don’t even entertain the possibility of them meeting our request, and receiving the missing pieces of the puzzle that we are trying to solve. In my experience, people with expertise in a particular area are open to sharing the knowledge and information that they have, if they are approached in the right way. This means respecting their time, knowledge and privacy, and being forthright about how you intend to use the information that is being conveyed.
Even in the event that they do shut you out, that is far from the worst thing that could happen in the circumstances. Often it will be the case that the same knowledge or information is available from another source. Your task will then be to search that alternate source out. Persistence in this task is key. Requiring the kind of committed action that is the antithesis of laziness, it is what will enable you to breakthrough with a solution, while others remain stuck in the dark because of the assumptions that they have not challenged.
The reactive nature of assumptions that are followed blindly, guarantees that they will not be nearly as effective as the proactive inquiry which is characteristic of leadership. Being the ‘leader’ of my class who was responsible for my students learning, I didn’t serve this function when I assumed that they knew what the terminology meant. To lead them effectively in that learning situation, I should have asked them up front if they knew what the terminology meant. The revelation would then have empowered them in a way that is not possible when the reality of what we are faced with is being obscured by our chosen assumptions. Equipped with an accurate understanding of that terminology, these students would have been in the position to lead others in understanding these same concepts. Having this conscious awareness perpetuates leadership. Thus, I believe, it is our responsibility to nurture this within ourselves.
Learning from that classroom experience, I will still have to exercise caution in coming to malformed conclusions. The temptation to assume is admittedly very strong. Ever present in the moment that we engage in thought, we must take care to ground ourselves first so that we can be guided by truth in fact, and not a false self-serving version of reality that paints our circumstances not as they are, but how the ego wants them to be.