The lights flickered for a brief moment in our Finance class the other day. Our Professor, who was in the midst of teaching a concept, abruptly asked – “The lights did flicker, right?” Once we’d nodded, he added with a smile – “Just wanted to make sure I wasn’t having a stroke or something.”
We all burst out laughing because the juxtaposition of a usually serious person cracking a joke made it funnier.
Jokes aside, though, it highlighted something important. For all those of us who are generally hard on ourselves, when things go wrong, we often begin by assuming that we are the problem. The better path would be to treat our assumed reason as a hypothesis and test it by checking in with other people if they are involved.
Instead of doing that, we attempt to draw conclusions from our perception of their perception.
This incident was a good reminder of a simple idea – “when in doubt and where appropriate, just ask.”