Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Lots of people – myself included – talk a good game about being open-minded. But how many of us are truly open to ideas that challenge our most closely-held beliefs? This question is important because the odds are overwhelming that at some point your career, marriage or even life will be undone by your belief in an idea that proved to be wrong.

One of my most treasured and longstanding friends is a conservative Texas CEO; I am a somewhat liberal creative type born in Massachusetts. I’m pretty sure we have never voted for the same candidate. But one reason I treasure his friendship is because he works very hard to try and understand how I think, and I do the same about him. Each of us recognizes that we are limited by our beliefs, attitudes and – most importantly – restricted access to information.

Limited access to information in the Information Age?

Many of us are surrounded by people who share our views. If you are religious, you congregate regularly with people of the same religion. Americans are surrounded by Americans; the same is true in Russia, India, China and Portugal. If you work for a cautious firm, you are surrounded by other cautious professionals. If you work for a startup, you associate with people more willing to take risks than the general public.

When you go online, you do not see the same Web that I see. You see a Web that has been personalized to match your ideas, preferences and activities. So you find more reasons to be set in your ways, and so do I.

The more set you are in your ways, the more blind spots you have. That’s why a closed mind is so dangerous.

The big problem is, we are blind to our blind spots.

As we get “experienced,” we think we get wiser. In reality, we simply accumulate a longer list of mistakes we have made. If we are reasonably smart, we avoid making the same mistakes again.

But few of us have the courage to SEEK OUT our blind spots. Doing so requires challenging many of our most cherished beliefs. It makes us feel foolish. Why would we deliberately do something our brains are telling us is nonsense?

Let me be clear: I am just as blind as you. I count pattern recognition as one of my best skills, but thinking in this manner limits my creativity and causes me to draw some conclusions that are stunningly wrong. (Unfortunately, it can take months or years for me to recognize when this happens.)

I cannot give you an easy prescription for opening your mind. Anything that’s easy will simply fool you into believing you are being open-minded; it won’t actually open your mind.

The only thing I can tell you is that lurking among your beliefs are one or more deadly traps that have the potential to cut short your success, health and/or happiness.

I tell you this not out of a sense of altruism. I tell you in the hope that your responses to this article will further motivate me to seek out and challenge my own blind spots.

Time to call my friend, Bill.