A mind like a parachute

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8 ways to prepare yourself for the winds of change.

 

“Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.” ~ Thomas Dewar

 

Inspirational and successful leaders keep open to new ideas. For some, being open-minded is as easy as breathing. For most others, it’s a challenge. But making the effort to think openly and embrace new ideas will produce untold benefits for your status as an inspirational and successful leader.

 

Don’t make the mistake of complacency; you don’t know everything, no matter how old and experienced you are. Now, more than ever, we live in a world that is constantly changing. Truly open-minded people are never weary of the effort, and always alert to new ideas and opportunities to try.

 

Following are 8 ways to prepare yourself for times of change, and to ensure you remain open-minded and ahead of the game no matter what lies ahead:

 

1 Aim high.

Reach for the stars, be ambitious; your employees will not be inspired by a leader who resigned to reality. Never surrender if you want to encourage your team to dream big too. If they are pulling ambitious goals from the depths of their minds, hearts and souls, they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

 

2 Think Creatively.

Successful endeavours are usually initiated by thinking out-of-the-box, stretching beyond what is the norm and testing the limits. To make this easier, try to create ‘psychological’ distance and disassociate yourself from your current position or location. This can make the challenge more accessible and encourage a higher level of thinking.

 

3 Be courageous.

Inspire others by having the courage to change course. State what is wrong and needs to be changed; once you say it, people will see that it is true. Of course, people may attack you for what you are trying to achieve, they might even get personal. After all, fundamental changes can be frightening. If this happens, direct the discussion back to the real issues.

 

4 Challenge your beliefs.

Your readiness to do this on a regular basis, for example through discussions with others or reading something provocative, demonstrates to others that you are willing to challenge your convictions. It also conveys trust that you are open to explore alternative thoughts, ideas and beliefs.  

5 Improve your abilities.

People with a growth mindset (adapted from “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck) reach higher levels of achievement and have a greater sense of free will. They embrace challenges, persist during setbacks, see efforts as the path to mastery, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. More important than believing in your abilities is the belief that you can improve your abilities.  

6 Learn something new.

Join clubs or classes based on things you have no knowledge of. Learn a new language. Read up on unexpected or unusual topics. Build silly things like a robot, a sensational Lego construction, your own worm farm, a cubby house for the kids in your life. Try things you have never tried before. Don’t mistake exercising a ‘stimulating’ mind for an ‘open’ mind – to have an open mind, you must accept that your presumptions of something might be wrong.  

7 Share the knowledge.

There is no better way to inform and expand your mind than to get into the habit of reading good and diverse literature. Try to read at least one book per month, and share what you read and what inspires you with others. Leaders are Readers.  

8 Be inspired yourself.

Look for people, knowledge, ideas and environments that you find inspiring and motivating. Draw from inspirational words of wisdom or quotes. Surround yourself with likeminded people, so that you can inspire and motivate one another. Research people you admire to learn from their actions and behaviours. Find a mentor among people you know who are 10 steps ahead of you in your field, role, or industry, already doing what you want to do.  
Time for action For the benefit of your professional development, become like an inquisitive child.  
  • Try a new food or dish
  • Learn about different people and lifestyles, for example through Wikipedia
  • Learn a new skill just for fun, like a programming language, a cipher scheme or algorithm
  • Talk to somebody you would not normally talk to
  • Attend a religious service that you have not visited before
  • Play a strategy game, do a jigsaw puzzle or complete some brainteaser puzzles
  • Block out one of your senses, like for example getting dressed blindfolded, or eat while blocking your nose
  • Explore places in your suburb, city or state that you have never been to before
  • Think about some mysteries, like the question of the chicken or the egg, or what is the most mysterious picture in the world
  • Spend an entire day without ever checking the time
  • Read a random topic on the internet, or watch a random tutorial video on YouTube
Leaders who look at the world around them with an open mind stand at a vantage point where they can see windows of opportunity. If you follow these 8 suggestions above and work to increase your open-mindedness as a leader, new pathways and patterns will lead you down the road to success and make a difference for you and your team. “Dare to make a difference!”  

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Martin Probst

AUTHOR | Martin Probst - CEO (Chief Education Officer)

 

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