Sunday, March 20, 2016

Open vs Closed

One of the biggest battles that I continue to wage with myself is around altering my mindset. Previously, I will readily admit that I had a very closed mindset when it came to opportunities. Everything was more of a burden than an opportunity. This is partly genetic, partly environmental and partly life choices. Unfortunately, for many years I cultivated a closed mindset and this has certainly lead to missed opportunities that I rue in hindsight.

Even after becoming aware of this mental limitation I still struggle with looking at things with a truly open mindset, however I continue to work hard on that limitation. The biggest differentiator now is that I am fully aware of my ‘default’ mindset option and have disciplined myself to be more circumspect when it arises. This means stepping back and questioning my view of the situation and asking whether I am judging it fairly on its merits or simply reverting back to character without appropriate and pragmatic consideration.

With this new discipline of trying to move towards an open mindset I have become far more aware of how many people I come across that are like I was all that time ago. I can now see more clearly that the peers I was closely involved also had a very rigid closed mindset, which I believed reinforced my own. No doubt mine also reinforced others and continued the cycle of closed aspects.

Now however, I am amazed at the number of people I come across, especially in the IT game, that have a totally closed mind set and, like I used to be, are totally unaware of it. A great example are the new Cloud PBX and PSTN connectivity features that are coming to Skype for Business in Office 365. When I speak about these abilities and potential all I seem to hear is how they are not worth investigating until they are completely available.

This attitude is clearly one of a closed mind. One that fears change as well as the challenge that may be involved in learning something new. An open mindset would see the huge opportunity that it could provide and want to be at forefront of the change. It is truly amazing at how polarised these attitudes are when you can observe them from a distance.

Now I fully appreciate that not everything turns out as planned and there will always be set backs and challenges, yet to an open mindset these are always opportunities to learn and grow. They are simply steps on the path to success. Being of an open mindset doesn’t mean you ignore reality but it does means that you don’t let some minor excuse prevent you exploring the opportunities available.

As I said, I still struggle with truly having an open mindset as my default state. However, I am certainly now more aware of when my mind is closing down an opportunity simply by reflex. The more I look, the more opportunities I see and that has been a conscious journey that I have undertaken over the years. I therefore encourage you to stop and consider what your default mindset is configured for. If it isn’t already on the open side of the ledger maybe it’s time to consider what opportunity lies in a place where everything is not a burden!

Remember, your mindset is something that you alone cultivate and control. It influences everything you do. My advice? Work hard to open yourself up rather than living a life of being scared of what change may bring. That won’t be easy, but then, nothing that is worthwhile ever is now is it?

The first step in changing your mindset maybe to look at the people you spend the most time with. What is their mindset? Is their default influencing you? I know it was for me, that’s why I stepped outside my comfort zone and changed those I most associated with. I’ll guarantee, cultivating an open mindset will change your life for the better. Give it a try. What have you got to lose?