When I was about 5 years old I took part in my first egg and spoon race. For the uninitiated of you out there the child is required to balance an egg on the bowl of a desert spoon. You then hold the spoon by its handle (to make sure the eggs position is as precarious as possible) and then you hold it out in front of you as you charge down a 100m sprint to the finish line. The ultimate aim being that you and the egg cross the finish line in one piece without you laying a finger on the egg itself.
Well there’s me. Little dot that I was. Charging down the course. Egg nestling nicely on the spoon. I was out in the lead. Winning by a mile. Until I ground to a dead halt. An absolute dead stop. My friend hadn’t kept up with my speed so I decided to stop and wait for her. I stood and I stared. As she went scooting straight past me and won. Followed by another kid. And I rolled in third.
I thought I knew what she was thinking. That we’d go over the finish line together. But I didn’t. Nor did she know what I was thinking.
Knowing you know what someone else is thinking, or even acknowledging that you don’t know what someone else is thinking, seems to fascinate people. It generates many of the search terms that bring people to my blog and it results in the fact that Don’t Assume You Know What I’m Thinking: Three Golden Rules is in my top 3 most read posts every month.
But why are we fascinated? Is it always useful to know what someone else is thinking? If Henry Ford had tried to mind read what his potential customers were thinking they needed then he’d probably have ended up breeding faster horses instead of making cars. As Steve Jobs said – sometimes you actually needed to show the customer what they didn’t even know they needed.
What the deepest hot water you’ve ever gotten yourself in to by assuming you knew what someone was thinking or you assumed someone else knew what you were thinking?
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