Last night I was at a party of speaker industry people. A speaker who is a paraplegic wheeled up to the four seat table where a friend and I were seated and asked if there was a spot for him. Of course there was.
During our lively conversation, the subject of disability came up and he asked me a very pointed question. He asked, “if you were paralyzed, let’s say you were a quadriplegic, how do you think you would react to that kind of injury?” After I thought for a second I said, “I don’t know if I could handle it – in fact I am not even sure I would want to live.” That little exchange began a conversation that I was completely fascinated with.
He shared that walking again is a desire that people who can walk tend to assume is the PRIMARY desire of those who cannot. “In my case,” he said, “that is not the case. I want stuff out of my way, wider aisles, ramps etc. I want things to happen in my life that make my life more functional so I can thrive JUST LIKE I AM!” I thought that was brilliant!
Perhaps that is a powerful lesson for all of us. It is VERY possible that we often project our needs onto others. We assume we know what the primary need is of the customer. We think we know our significant others highest and best desires when in fact we may overestimate our insight. How blind of me to assume (on a subconscious level) that my new friend longed to walk. Consider these steps:
1. Challenge your assumptions. What are you sooooo sure of yet haven’t verified?
2. Examine your company, relationships, etc to determine if you sometimes do things, create products or services etc, that you think are helpful, but in fact are just creations based on your own assumptions.
3. Slow down and pay attention to those who are VERY different. Be curious about them and their lives! You will learn a lot. There are people working with you today that you could learn something about and then learn something from.
What can you share with your peers on this topic? Add a comment below to keep the discussion going.