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Assumptions Are Bad For 3rd Grade Art Projects (And Everything Else)


So one May Day in elementary school (a long, long time ago) my classmates and I spent the day with our teacher making May baskets for our moms. We cut and pasted, and decorated, and drew, and colored. We filled them with candy, and pictures, and flowers. They were third-grade masterpieces.

Now as I understand, the tradition is that you leave a May basket on the step of someone you love, knock on the door, and run away and hide. Not sure why, but there’s likely a story behind it. So that’s what the plan was for this particular gaggle of third-graders. Make baskets, fill baskets, take them home, hang on door knob for mom, ring doorbell, hide in bushes.

Imagine my excitement. The anticipation. I carried my basket proudly and carefully home on the school bus. Planning the secret attack out in my head. I jumped off the bus, crept up the street to my house, and covertly hung the basket on the door, rang the bell, and hid around the corner in the bushes.

“Peter the door is unlocked,” came bellowing from within the house. (I use the word bellowing for effect here, which is likely horrifying my mom right now.)

Hmmmm…Mrs. Wilson didn’t cover this possibility in the May basket lesson. I slinked out of the bushes, rang the bell again, and dove back into the bushes.

“Peter, the door is UNLOCKED!”

Hiding in bushes. Third-grade brain analyzing situation. Confused. Not going at all like planned. Time to look at entire list of options. Only one item on list. Ring doorbell again.


Deflated, there are now two distinct things going through my head. One, my mom has no idea how much she is ruining everything. And two, Mrs. Wilson is clearly not qualified to teach kids about May Day.

I’ll end the story here, and thank my mom for being a good sport. She’s always embarrassed when I share this story, and we laugh about it every year on May 1st.

Here’s my point. This kind of stuff happens every day. At work, at home, in meetings, everywhere. We spend a lot of time and effort assuming that people know what we’re trying to accomplish, and we’re disappointed and in disbelief when they just don’t “get it.” The other people in our world spend the same amount of time and energy doing the same. We all know what happens when you assume, but most of the time we still build the foundation of our days on those nasty little (or big) assumptions. If you really stop and focus on what in your day you actually know vs. what you assume, you will likely be surprised by the results of the survey.

Quit making them. Big or small, assumptions are the root a whole lot of evils. (I assume my mom will forgive me for sharing her May Day story yet again. I’ll let you know how it turns out.)


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