The Four Assumptions for a Better You
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Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “If you assume, you make an ‘ass’, out of ‘u’, and ‘me’”. Well, here are the four assumptions that, if you take, will instantly make you a better version of yourself. You will be able to elevate yourself, and the people around you, to new heights.
These are assumptions I learned from Steven Covey, the same guy who wrote one of the best-selling book of all time, “The 7 habits of highly effective people”. Each one targets a specific part of us - the body, the mind, the heart, and the spirit.
For the body - assume you’ve had a heart attack; now live accordingly
Until we lose them, we often take things in life for granted. How often have you felt grateful in the last week that you have legs to walk with, arms to touch with, ears to hear with, and eyes to see with. These things are such an integral part of us, that we can’t imagine what life would be like without them. We’re so used to them, that their absence is unthinkable.
We have to force ourselves to consider what losing these things would mean, if we are to fully appreciate them. We may never learn the true feelings of the paraplegics, the deaf, or the blind. But, we must simulate that feeling. Don’t wait to be thankful for your ability to walk, only when that is no longer an option.
Assume you’ve had a heart attack. Truly try to imagine what the pangs in your chest would feel like. How you would likely panic, not knowing what is happening. How your chest will tighten up and constraint you. Imagine your feeling of powerlessness and agony. Do this exercise several times. Then, observe how your attitude towards your body changes.
For the mind - assume the half-life of your profession is two years; now prepare accordingly
Your mind has to be one of your biggest assets - keep it sharp at all times. You will need it to solve problems quickly, think logically, make a living, and a ton of other things. A better mind will help in all areas of life. Unfortunately, most people neglect to develop their minds to their fullest potential. They treat it as a storage unit, where they place some skill that they acquired early on in life, and never think about it again.
Half-life is the time required for a quantity to reduce to half its initial value. Banking that the skill you learned will be just as useful 10 years down the road, is the surefire way to stop learning new things. Instead, assume that the skill will be only half as useful in 2 years. That will definitely keep you on your toes. With that assumption in mind you will constantly upgrade your skills, and expand your potential.
For the heart - assume everything you say or think about another, they can overhear; now speak accordingly
The heart refers to that part of you that helps you form an honest connection to yourself, and to the others around you. When I talk about developing the heart, it is synonymous with developing your emotional intelligence - your self-knowledge, self-awareness, social sensitivity, empathy, and the ability to communicate successfully with others. As Covey puts it, It is about having the courage to acknowledge weaknesses and express and respect differences.
Your sensitivity, empathy, and connection with others suffer when you foster thoughts about others behind their backs. I don’t suggest brutal honesty at all times, but the aim is to minimize gossip and to maximize human connection and empathy. If you assume everything you think or say about another, they can overhear, you will begin to reevaluate your thoughts. You will also learn to control your impulses to talk about people behind their backs. Even if it seems that you are forming a genuine connection with another, when you two gossip around the water-cooler, don’t be mislead. It’s nothing but cheap pleasure at the expense of another, and in the process, you nurture a feeling at the back of your mind that this guy can’t be trusted, just as he does the same with you. If he is willing to talk dirty about another behind their back, what do you think he is saying, behind yours?
To grow your human capacity for connection, assume everything you say or think about another, they can overhear.
For the spirit - assume you have a one-on-one visit with your Creator every quarter; now live accordingly
Our spirit represents the most important part of us, because it is the source of guidance for everything else - the body, the mind, and the heart. It is the drive for meaning. It is the light leading the way. It is the compass for our principles.
How do you keep your moral compass pointing north? Assume that you will be having a one-on-one with your Creator every quarter. Now, maybe you don’t believe in God, maybe you believe in multiple Gods, or maybe it’s something completely different. Regardless, this is the best way to keep accountability for where you are at in your life. We keep diligently working towards our goals in the workplace, often under the pressure caused by weekly meetings with our boss, monthly evaluations, yearly performance reviews, etc.
It’s okay that we need to be keeping score. It’s okay to keep a track of our progress. It simply amazes me that we keep such diligent records of how we are progressing in our jobs, but not in our lives.