Jean Croker Petke



There’s a problem with assumptions.

We assume we know what someone is like and why they do what they do. We assume we have the solution to the problem. We assume we have more wisdom or experience than the next person. We assume the world is flat. We assume there is no solution. We assume that things must stay as they are.

Some time ago, I bought a special lamp for my piano, that clips on the music rack. It provides excellent light when I want to practice at night. I use it many times each week.

In recent months this lamp, great as it is, has been a source of daily frustration.  From its position on the music rack and my position on the piano bench, the long bulb obscures the top row of music. I don’t know if something changed recently that makes this more of a problem or not.


During my frustration, I’ve been searching for solutions:

  • Tilt my head down and sideways so I can view the music.
  • Remove the lamp from the music rack, which I often do in the day time — not a difficult task. I store the lamp under the piano so it won’t get kicked or bumped.
  • Prop my music on whatever I can that is lower than the music rack. Some music refuses to stay situated in such positions.
  • Get a piece of cardboard or foam board to prop my music on in this alternate position.
  • Purchase a new light.

A few days ago, as I was removing the lamp for the umpteenth time, I noticed a small screw on the back, where the support rods are encased by a black box. I’d never seen it before — but then I hadn’t been looking for such a thing. When I purchased the lamp it was ready to install so there was no need to fiddle with any screws.

Noticing it was a Phillips screw, I made a quick trip to the garage for an appropriate screwdriver.  I loosened the screw. Immediately, the rods that hold the lamp were released. I extended the rods several inches, then tightened the screw. Now the light no longer obscures the top row of musical notes.

Such a simple solution, requiring less than 5 minutes.

The months of frustration were caused by my assumption.  I assumed the light was not adjustable. I didn’t even bother looking for a way to adjust it. I assumed the lamp itself was not and could not be the solution to my problem.

Now this whole situation seems ridiculous, and stupid, and inexcusable.

But how many times do we do similar things in other situations?

We assume there is no obvious solution or that the solution is somehow beyond the tools and skills we have on hand. Sometimes we believe solutions are, or will be, more difficult than they really are. We focus on the complex, rather than the simple.

I’ll leave it to you to review your own assumptions and look again for solutions to your situations.

Until next Tuesday . . .