Years ago I worked with a man whose company was undergoing significant change after it had been sold to new owners. He recognized that while the old ways of doing things were valid and good, they were not sacrosanct. He was open to new ways of managing the business.
His philosophy regarding these changes was that he could fight them, or he could be open to them, the choice was his. He knew that either way, he was going to have to adapt to the new requirements. He would periodically remind his staff of this by saying, “We can do hard time, or we can do easy time.” He had a firm habit of being open-minded.
By that he meant that if he and his staff resisted adopting the changes, they’d simply feel miserable. For him, the changes were an adventure. They were something new to be encountered and experienced. It didn’t matter if the experiences were as breath-taking as a stunning mountaintop view or as frustrating as car trouble on a July afternoon. Just sit back, accept the new ways of doing things and get on with running the business. In other words, change is inevitable, misery is optional. He didn’t want his people to be miserable, and he didn’t want them to lose focus on the more important need to take care of clients. His open mind and positive attitude affected his whole team’s willingness to comply. As a result, the transitions were effected quickly.
How’s your open-mindedness habit? If you often begin responses with “no” – without considering whether what was said might in fact be correct or have merit, you need to work on becoming more open-minded. If you are quick to take offense when another’s point of view differs from your own, you need to work on becoming more open-minded. If, when you encounter that different viewpoint, you immediately start trying to convert the person to your way of thinking, you need to work on becoming more open-minded.
It may be that the habit of not being open-minded was learned some time ago and you were rewarded for that behavior. Just because you learned that approach first does not mean that it serves your purposes well today. If it does, of course there’s no reason to change. But you might want to keep an open mind about how well it works for you.
Being open-minded is a habit that is developed through consistent practice. It begins with a willingness to embrace change. Instead of starting your answers (or internal responses) with “no,” start with the word “yes” and then think about how that can be true. Instead of taking offense or trying to convince others to see things your way, ask questions to increase your understanding and consider the logic and various advantages of their views.
Over time, it will become easier for you keep an open mind when changes come your way. With consist practice, it will become natural to look at change as just a part of life. It’s not there to make your life miserable but rather, to gently guide you in the direction you were meant to go all along.
Life Is Honest, Open and True: With a willingness to become open to changes and to embrace them with a positive attitude, we can learn to be open to new experiences even though we may fear them and long to hold on to the old ways. The next time you’re faced with unwelcome changes, look at them as nothing more than part of this great adventure we call life. Then you can decide whether you want to accept them and stay focused on what’s most important to you, or if you want to waste your precious time and energy being miserable.
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