Several years ago, I attended an event in an auditorium. I felt uncomfortable immediately I sat because the cooling system wasn’t functioning. I looked around and saw a fan standing nearby but it wasn’t on. As I thought of switching it on, I immediately reasoned that all the people I met seated were also looking uncomfortable. It was inconceivable that they wouldn’t have attempted to switch on the fan already. Definitely, it must be out of order. As difficult as it was, I tried to focus on the ongoing event.
Few minutes later, another person joined us at that section of the auditorium. It took him but a moment become restless and I mentally sympathised with him. Almost immediately, he did the silliest thing I had ever seen- he stood and headed straight for the fan. As I observed keenly, I was ready to extend my sympathy again. But those thoughts vanished from my mind as he switched it on. I heard a humming sound but thought it was my active imagination. Then the blades started to move ever so slowly. Within a few seconds, the fan was fully operational and everyone felt better. While others were relieved the fan “finally worked”, I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t believe no one had tried it before I came but more importantly, I couldn’t believe I assumed so much. I learnt the following from the experience:
- Avoid assumption: it is risky to base your life decisions on assumptions. It is riskier to act based on what you think people know. Several persons follow the crowd on very important issues, thinking the majority can never be wrong. Actually, that may be how they became the majority in the first place- because people tagged along without asking questions. It is very important that you confirm the authenticity of the premise for your actions. If you’ll be able to defend your decision in life, you have to be persuaded of the reason you do what you do.
- Don’t be afraid to try: in the case of the fan, I was afraid I would look stupid if I tried to switch it on since I assumed everyone else had tried it. Wrong!!! They never did. The problem was not my lack of intelligent to know I should try; the problem was that I was afraid to fail. Imagine all the things we are smart enough to think of but too scared to try?
- Focus on your goals and not on people: I guess the person who eventually switched on the fan cared less if anyone else was in the room. He went straight for the fan and was not distracted by what people. It is hard enough to press towards your goal; it is hardest when you press carrying on your shoulders other people’s opinions.
- You don’t have to endure it: if you are sick of it, change it. Don’t just sit and complain about circumstances around you. How would you know it can’t change until you have tried?
- Time doesn’t repair things; people do: a negative situation will remain so until someone does something about it. Time doesn’t repair a bad situation; time actually makes it worse through degeneration. If you don’t do it, who will?
- Don’t blame others: when you blame others, remember you may be as guilty. Why waste precious time blaming people? Do your part and move on.