What are the givens that make up your foundation?

Givens – I’ve been thinking a lot about givens lately. And I’ve realized that there are several definitions, several types of givens.

First, there’s the given that is particular, or specified…follow the given instructions.

But there’s also the given that means taking something into consideration… given that I’m not an English professor, I’m likely to make a few mistakes here.

There’s the given that is our predisposition, what we are prone to be or do. For example, I’m given to swearing and metaphors and similes and making random connections.

Another kind of given is the gift – that which is given.

And then, kind of related to all of these are the givens that are assumptions. These are the ones that I have fixated on a bit. These are the things that might be factual – which also leaves the door open to the possibility that they might NOT be – but we just take them to be actual.

These givens become the foundation stones upon which we build a whole lot of things. These givenscan be people, trust, relationships, beliefs, skills, jobs, faith… all types of stones.

These are the givens that we take for granted. We don’t often examine them.

This particular kind of given is also often built out of our conditioning, and we don’t even know to examine them. We’ve built so much on top of them that we barely even remember that they are there, buried underneath the layers of living and learning.

Sometimes we accidentally discover that one of our givens isn’t actually truth. It can show up as just a tiny tremble and we find we need to do some work on our foundations. Or it can be a huge quake when we learn that one of our foundation stones is not solid, and the whole structure we’ve built around our lives can come tumbling down. It can also happen that there’s something in between.

I guess the comparison I’m coming to is that living with givens is a lot like living in earthquake country. I mean, since I’m given to metaphors and similes…

We can prepare. We can occasionally look deeply at our conditioning, look for fault lines and see if there are foundation stones that need to be repaired or replaced. We can do some light maintenance and acknowledge some of the things we take for granted. We can do some planning to be prepared in case of emergency.

But sometimes the world shifts and we just have to heal and rebuild and be there for each other.

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,



If you’re interested in using Color Thinking for your own leadership development program, let’s talk. I invite you to schedule a call if you’d like to chat about it.  Or email me: maggie@maggiehuffman.com

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