February 16, 2024

I am a better human being for having attempted to build it


An assumption a something that’s accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

Now, from a very young age, we have been told not to assume, since it supposedly makes an ass out of you and me.

Which is a very clever lesson that children think is hilarious. But realistically speaking, it’s almost impossible to plan any project without making at least some assumptions.

We never have all the answers. Most of life is educated guesses. Nobody really knows how anything is going to go. To make assumptions is to be human. We form these beliefs based on previous experience and the information available to us at the time.

The key is assuming in a direction where if we’re proven false, the negative impact is minimal.

Because there’s nothing worse than making an incorrect supposition that ends up crumbling an entire project. Personally, I try to make naturalistic assumptions, where I’m honest, compassionate, but also protective about these beliefs that I can’t prove. That way all expectations stay out of the equation and I can focus on good process and high impact.

But of course, project assumptions had to be made. The only way to overcome the cold start problem on an enterprise like this is to be a naturalist. Which means realistically and lovingly protecting my creative process by forming certain beliefs. Here is a collection of those. See how many of them resonate with your approach to working.

First, resources.

I assume that there is a reasonable budget to build and promote this online learning program. And if anyone on the team has a problem with this investment, then I assume that begging for forgiveness once it’s done, will be easier than asking for permission before it starts.

This forces me to err on the side of generosity and momentum, rather than scarcity and perfection.

Assumption two is for delivery.

I assume that this project will take longer than I’d like it to complete. And if people break my balls about the timeline, then I will assume that it’s still coming together faster than anyone else could have done it.

This frees me to avoid putting undue pressure on myself, but also hustle while I wait.

The next assumption is scope.

I assume that as the snowball starts rolling down the hill, other people will want to add value to it. Which is wonderful. But I also assume that we can’t do everything under the sun on version one, otherwise we’ll never get it out the door.

This keeps my boundaries airtight so we can maintain a bias for speed and output.

Speaking of other people, assumption number four is collaboration.

I assume that most of my coworkers are simply not going to help me with this project. They’re too busy doing their jobs to take on any additional work. Now, for the few folks who are generously willing to help, I’m grateful for their support.

But I also assume that their contributions are likely a one time, two time thing.

Fifth in my list of naturalistic assumptions is around technology.

I assume that the software, platforms, environments and infrastructure for my project are going to be imperfect, frustrating, and complex. I assume they will annoy me so goddamn much that I will want to rage quit multiple times.

Meanwhile, I assume it’s part of the journey and outside my sphere of control, so I will surrender to the machine, compromise where it makes sense, and keep moving this story forward.

As you can see, assumptions don’t have to make an ass out of you and me. Sometimes they just help us maintain our sanity.

In my experience, as long as you believe in a direction where if you’re proven false, the negative impact is minimal, then what’s the problem?

If you want to focus on good process and high impact, make sure you’re honest, compassionate and protective about what you can’t prove.

What naturalistic assumptions about your current endeavor might liberate you?