Practising open mindedness
Practising open mindedness isn’t universal a characteristic we are born with. Nonetheless, to be effective leaders and managers we have to develop the crucial habits of self-reflection, observation, challenging beliefs and questioning perceptions. For many of us, until something in life looms up to challenge us, we simply don’t make the effort, or we just don’t realise we should be questioning our habitual paradigms.
Closed minded habits
Some of the pitfalls of not practising 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
- Stereotyping situations or people
- Coming to faulty conclusions
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.
Why we are stuck
The most common reason people struggle is that it sometimes feels painful to have to acknowledge there is another way to look at things. People like to feel they are right. And finally, they avoid the possibility of backtracking to painful situations 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”
The Golden Triangle
There is a simple formula which can help the process of practising open mindedness, and called “The golden triangle”. In essence, this involves looking at tricky situations in 3 ways. From your own perspective, the perspective of the others, and then as an observer
The role of the observer is essential in this process because it is in the observer’s role when 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 realize:
For every argument “for”, there is a counter argument
Beliefs, thoughts, perceptions and ideas are fluid and flexible
Values can change depending on different situations
Stories and myths are helpful to unravel paradigms or thought patterns
This is where you can indulge in looking at things with your own unique experiences and situations. You examine your own beliefs, preferences and desires. You can choose the best course given your unique self. By acknowledging your own unique perspective, you free yourself up to let this go if needed. Alternatively you might decide to go with your preference or situation having examined all perspectives.
Putting oneself into other shoes is one of the most loving and powerful acts you can carry out. Understanding where someone is coming from means you can consider other points of view. It means you can understand and accept another person’s perspective.
We all need to form paradigms, beliefs and ways of thinking and making decisions which 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 practice your muscle of open-mindedness.