“This customer’s going to be a pain in the butt.”
“He has no power. Ignore him and talk to his boss instead.”
“They aren’t going to give us a fair chance. I know their type.”
These are all assumptions you might make about a customer, their potential, or future actions. These—and dozens of other possible assumptions—are based on your own sense of how the world works. You are making a prediction about the future, based on your own past.
Here’s the problem: it is unbelievably difficult to predict the future.
It is even worse to put other human beings in a box of your own making, because all you are doing is limiting their potential based on a failure of your own imagination and heart.
In her late teens, after an illness, Mandy Harvey lost her hearing. She was in music school at the time, and they promptly kicked her out. Having lost the only goal that ever motivated her, Mandy felt like she died. She just gave up.
But then something shifted inside Mandy. It occurred to her that although she could no longer hear, she might still be able to sing. Using visual tuners and other tools, she regained her singing abilities and in the roughly ten years since, has released several albums and performed at the Kennedy Center.
Early this month, she appeared on the TV show “America’s Got Talent”. It was a truly remarkable demonstration of how our preconceptions of other people can sometimes go horribly wrong.
Or, to put it more positively, Mandy showed that human spirit and ingenuity can overcome any preconception, even your own.
Simon Cowell, the show’s notoriously grumpy judge, was visibly moved and granted Mandy immediate access to the show’s live round. He joined her on stage and told her, “I’ve done this a long time. That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen or heard.” He then gave her a big hug.
Back behind the judges’ table, Cowell said, “I never think I’m going to be surprised or amazed by people, and then you turn up.”
People are going to show up in your life who are going to surprise and amaze you. Give them a chance. Open your mind.
Oh, and if you think this is a silly example from a reality TV show, bear in mind that to get on that show, Mandy Harvey had to work for years in absolute silence, alone, to earn the right to be discovered.
What she did was a lot harder than what we are asking you to do.