Is your mind sufficiently open to change it if the circumstances which were part of your original decision have changed? Some people pride themselves in never looking back – saying, “A decision is a decision.” Others constantly second-guess themselves and doubt their choices.
A workable middle ground can be: make clear decisions based on your core values; and if circumstances change favorably in alignment with your core values, be open to reconsidering your decision.
Author, Robert Collier said, “One comes to believe whatever one repeats to oneself sufficiently often, whether the statement be true or false. It comes to be a dominating in one’s mind.”
Flexibility is key to having an open mind. Stubbornness in holding on to a decision may mis-serve us because that old decision may harden and have us experience being stuck. Giving people and situations the benefit of compassion, understanding, and empathy can bring balance to issues where changing your mind could be a better choice.
Any sincere discussion about an open mind will ultimately lead to consideration of having an open heart because, after all, what we are really talking about is *being* open.
Dan Millman, one of my favorite authors and teachers, wrote:
“You haven’t opened your heart fully, to life, to each moment. The peaceful warrior’s way is not about invulnerability, but absolute vulnerability – to the world, to life, and to the Presence you felt. All along, I have shown you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is a warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.” (Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives – buy it; you’ll love it!)
Are you living with your heart wide open? How do you feel when both your mind and your heart are wide open? How have you felt when one or both have been shut down? How have you opened up when you have been unavailable?
The consultant widely credited for being the architect of postwar Japan’s economic recovery was W. Edwards Deming whose famed “Deming System” became the gold standard of strategic consulting for decades.
Deming was an author, consultant and advisor to governments and multinational corporations, and he believed that all organizations are holographic of their leaders. With all of his accomplishment and wisdom, he often said that one of his primary strengths was asking “naive questions” – questions which assumed little to nothing about how things had always been done. The reason? To have the freshest possible approach and an open mind.
Are there places in your business or employment situation where asking “naive questions” could be useful? How are you with letting go of prior knowledge and assumptions, at least for a while, in service of seeing something new? What resistances have you noticed to this kind of approach? How can you effectively address those fears?
In Zen Buddhism, there is the concept of beginner’s mind. This is a state of openness and receptivity as if one were just beginning – no matter how long you might have actually engaged in a particular activity or faced a specific situation. There is less analysis and judgment about whether or not something is working. Thus, there is more presence and attention. Less distraction, more focus.
Imagine the possibilities of approaching your career, your romantic interests, your financial position, your dreams, your life – all from the perspective that you are just beginning. Why? A beginner has, by definition, no preconceived notions about how something should be done; therefore, she or he has a very open mind.
Where in your life would having beginner’s mind be most useful to you? What assumptions and limitations might have to fall away if you approached everything as if for the first time? Have you ever done this before? If so, how did it work for you?
How open are you to change, to opportunity, to life? We humans have sometimes felt as though we’ve known “the answer” – and we’ve perhaps gotten stuck there when our perceptions became rigid.
Coach Phil Jackson said, “Always keep an open mind and a compassionate heart.”
Keeping an open mind is most often simply a matter of practicality because circumstances are always changing, so one’s mind or perceptions often move as well. And having compassionate hearts assists in keeping our minds open.
Would you characterize yourself as having an open mind, or are you more rigid in your points of view? How can we balance being open, yet being decisive when we need to be?