This is the third article exploring the factors that underpin empowerment- An open mind. The definition of an open mind is a willingness to try new things or hear and consider new ideas. In my previous article 8 Things to Judge if you are Empowered , I wrote that empowered individuals embrace new experiences wholeheartedly and trust they will learn from them.
The things that keep us from trying new things or considering new ideas could be:
Our beliefs – Growing up in the Hindu faith, I have acquired some traditions and beliefs.Nothing will persuade me to eat the holy cow!
Our comfort zone – I don’t like the cold or snow. Travelling in a winter wonderland is not something that I jump at doing.
Our tried and trusted ways of approaching issues – I like to talk things through in conflict situations. This works out well for me, except when the other party dislikes such a direct approach.
Our affiliations/loyalties – Going to the same fruit and veg shop for many years. I would not want to break my routine by checking out a new vegetable shop.
Our biases- My affiliation to the underdog means I make a lot of allowances for these people. On the other hand, if I feel someone is privileged and arrogant, I am not prepared to give them the same leeway.
Our belief that we are too old to change- I could never wear anything that would not be considered “respectable”for a fifty plus year old.
As you can see, having an open mind can be tricky. Most of us have a range of these constraints that hold us back from embracing something new. Can you think of some things that you are not prepared to give up? In my case I can gingerly try different approaches for most of the items listed above except for the holy cow and dressing like a teen.
Let’s take the “open mind” concept to a deeper level.
Challenging the Status Quo
Many of us claim that we are open to new ways of doing things.
How do you react when a new employee questions you about a process that you are proud of?
How do you feel when this happens?
How will you answer the question?
They proceed to give you an alternative process.
How do you feel?
Would you implement the new process?
Changing our view in a discussion
Imagine that you are in a meeting. You have a point of view on an important decision. Your colleague puts forward a sound argument for another course of action.
How would you respond to this?
How would it influence your views?
Would you incorporate this into your recommendation?
You are part of a team that works well together. A new member joins the team who is quite unlike anyone of you. He speaks seldom and very slowly. You are a fast thinker and speaker.
How would you engage this person in a meeting?
What would you do to ensure you understood him?
How would you treat his input?
What would you do to make him comfortable?
One of the team has missed an important deadline. You are the manager and facing a huge backlash because of this oversight.
How do you deal with this person?
How carefully will you listen to their side of the story?
What learning would you take out of their story?
How would you prevent this from happening again?
Exploring something new
Think about a country or part of your city that you would rather not visit.
What is holding you back?
What do you need to do to overcome your aversion?
Would you even consider this?
Imagine you meet a local from this area.
How would you interact with them?
Can you put yourself in their shoes to understand how life is for them?
How do you think you would handle their challenges?
I hope these questions stimulate your thinking. It is a good self reflective exercise. This may reinforce how open your mind is. Alternatively you may have some clues as to what you may like to work on.
Thanks to Jay Manimohan I was introduced to this Ted Talk by Julia Galef. It fits in perfectly with an open mind. I hope this helps you develop what Julia calls a Scout Mindset – curious, open and grounded.
Take the steps that will help you flourish as an empowered individual. An open mind will help you embrace new experiences. You will grow from these experiences. Your perspective will broaden and you will be better able to respond to the challenges that come your way.
At Stridez we strongly believe in empowerment. At Sridez, our first release enables young graduates to approach getting their first job with this empowered mindset. If you are a young graduate, register now with Stridez.com.au and take your future into your own hands