Understanding our assumptions


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Copyright 2005 by K. Ferlic,   All Rights Reserved

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There is an experience the author had as an undergraduate physic major that significantly impacted his life. In particular, it significantly impacted how he managed employees and organizations.

A physicist is devoted to finding a way to understand and/or predict the operations of physical Creation. Given a set of conditions, the physicist looks to understand the principles governing the condition such that they can predict the outcome. If they cannot fully understand all the principles, they look to find a way to nevertheless predict the outcome. Quantum mechanics is good example of this statement. The mathematics and theory of quantum mechanics as applied does a good job of predicting the outcome of many situations at the atomic level. However, whether or not any physicist truly understands quantum mechanics and the paradoxes it seems to raise is another question. Nevertheless, the physicist is focused on the predictive qualities of the theory they use. Contribution of Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein both provided some insights into this view of physicists and their contributions provide a similar influence on the Releasing Your Unlimited Creativity material.

As a “physicist in training” the author frequently remembers a discussion he held with his undergraduate Physics Department Chairman, Dr. Beiduk In discussion about solving physical problems and failure to get an answer that corresponded to the natural order of things, Dr Beiduk made the following statement, “The mathematics doesn’t lie, it is in your postulates you find your problems.” That to which he referred was that there was a cause effect relationship in events in physics. All the mathematics does is mimic or symbolize that cause effect relationship and how that relationship unfolds in a given situation. If you have choose the correct mathematical descriptions of the situation or the correct mathematical model, you should have no problem predicting the outcome. If you don’t predict the outcome accurately, the model you choose is wrong, not the mathematics. You can’t say the mathematics is wrong. Your assumptions about the situation is wrong. Quite simply there is something you failed to observe and failed to properly consider about the situation.

As a physics student, the author understood the truth of the statement as it applied to trying to understanding and model physical Creation. However, as the author grew older and worked outside the world of physics, he began to observe the truth of this statement in other areas of life, especially in organizations. He began to understand we act and respond to the world based on the assumptions we hold about the situation we face. Although we may not use mathematical models to predict the outcome of situations, we often try to predict and force the outcome of a situation. Although we many not consciously think it, we nevertheless think, “If I act this way, this will happen. If I act that way, that will happen.” In essence what we are trying to do is predict the outcome of our choices because we think we know how a situation will unfold. Sometimes we are correct, other times we are in error. Nevertheless we are trying to predict the outcome.

What the author slowly came to observe is that we are acting based on assumptions we have made about ourselves, the situation at hand and how we think the world works. We call them beliefs and understanding. In reality, they are simply assumptions we have made as a result of the past experiences we have had. Either from experiences we have personally had or from what we have learned from others.

His first real non physics application of this understanding about the assumptions we make was as the Company Commander of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Band, otherwise known as “Band Company,” his senior year as an undergraduate. The experience with Band Company coupled with looking into the assumptions we make about the situation we face, influenced his entire outlook and philosophy of management throughout his career. Looking into the nature of our assumptions ultimately lead him to explore the nature of creativity. And, as the cliche states, ‘The rest is history.”

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