Hidden dangers: Why checking your assumptions is important

This is about keeping your belongings safe. This is about keeping you safe.

Yesterday morning, I checked into a Berlin hostel with lockers. I am carrying lots of equipment and stuff with me – my wallet, company credit cards, a new 1000 $ AI computer, and more.

Obviously, I want to keep this stuff safe overnight. I took two lockers, and added my trusted locks I got off Amazon, which have travelled with me everywhere.

What’s good to keep things safe in Colombia, Australia, the UK must also work for Berlin, right?

I just popped the lock on, and assumed that it would actually work. I left my stuff in there during the day, and also overnight.

Today, just out of curiosity, I decided to test the locking mechanism.

It simply turns and opens!

My assumption, that my lock would keep my stuff safe was wrong. The only thing which it did is show to other guests that this locker is reserved, and maybe that prevented them from opening it.

In life, we always operate with assumptions. Assumptions which sometimes are based in experience, and therefore are more akin to facts (e.g. I know a european power supply can’t be directly inserted into a US socket). Sometimes, however, we simply transfer knowledge (this lock works for my bag) to another area (this lock works for the locker in this Hostel). Just making an assumption that it will still be correct.

It’s really easy to test these assumptions in many cases – and testing it today helped me to actually ensure my stuff was locked. I’ve rented two of these padlocks here:

The reason this padlock works is that it has a much thicker shackle, which physically prevents the lock of the locker from turning. The lock I bought on Amazon was not designed for this purpose, although it works great for many other use cases.

In the same way, we can transfer this to many other cases in life – whether it is making assumptions about employees performing to a certain level, without ever testing them, whether it is the assumption that our significant other values a certain thing, or has similar goals to ours … life is full of theories to be tested against real life.

Running on assumptions can be dangerous.

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