Do you sometimes just feel stuck, frustrated or weary of the effort of trying to change either yourself or others?
One of the traits of a great leader is open-mindedness. What follows is a simple technique to help you to develop your open-mindedness muscle:
I don’t think any of us could be totally open-minded because we continually have to make decisions and, in order to make decisions, we usually have to come to some sort of conclusion, even if that means not making a decision at all.
Being open-minded, isn’t universally a characteristic we are born with. Often we have to develop the crucial habits of self-reflection, observation, challenging beliefs and perceptions.
For many of us, until something in life looms up to challenge us, then we simply don’t make the effort, or we just don’t realise that we should be questioning our daily paradigm. Some of the pitfalls of not practicing open-mindedness are:
- Having a Groundhog day experience
- Seeing other people grow away from you
- Staying in a miserable situation/state/relationship
- Giving up on dreams
- Feeling like a victim
- Limiting other people
- Stereo-typing situations or people
- Coming to faulty conclusions
New ways of thinking
Within my coaching practice, I regularly see clients or people they work with, struggle to overcome fixed beliefs, values, judgments or even wishful thinking that get in the way of changing, or moving forward in a situation.
The most common reasons they struggle is that it sometimes feels painful to have to:
- Acknowledge there is another way to look at things, and they might have got it wrong
- They have a need to be right
- They have to track back to painful situations in their past which formed their limiting beliefs.
Byron Katie has a brilliant method which demonstrates how we can turn around beliefs and ways of thinking to find relief from uncomfortable or painful emotions. You can find out more about Byron Katie’s work in her series of books which started with “Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life”
For me, there is a simple formula which can help the process of practicing open-mindedness, and I call this “The golden triangle”. In essence, this involves looking at tricky situations in three ways: from your own perspective, the perspective of the other(s), and then as an observer.
The role of the observer is essential in this process because it is in the observer’s role that it is possible to remain neutral, detached and to see the bigger picture. The possibilities are endless. When you come to make decisions, using the perspective of an observer you come to realise:
- For every argument “for“, there is a counterargument
- Beliefs, thoughts, perceptions and ideas are fluid and flexible
- Values can change depending on different situations
- Stories and myths are helpful to unraveling paradigms or thought patterns.
We all need to form paradigms, beliefs and ways of thinking and taking decisions that work for us – we couldn’t get through our daily lives without such a structure. But if that structure isn’t working for you, then it’s time to visit the Golden Triangle and develop your open-mindedness muscle.
Christina Lattimer is an HR consultant at HR and leadership development consultancy, People Discovery.
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