Being open-minded is the key to flexibility, resilience, and peace of mind. And too many of us, whether we realize it or not, are not very open-minded. In fact, when other ideas challenge our existing beliefs, we can act like pretty close-minded people.
Do you think you’re open-minded? Let’s see…
Get ready to raise those hands! 🙋🏼♀️
Do you ever find yourself thinking you know how to do something better than someone else?
Are there any foods you just don’t like, and no matter what, you will not try them again? (I think of me and olives. Hated them for years, but I love them now.)
Have you ever been in an argument in which you just couldn’t—or refused to—see the other person‘s side no matter how hard you tried?
Have you ever avoided trying something new or getting outside of your comfort zone for fear of making a mistake or looking silly?
Are you convinced you’re smarter and more knowledgeable than the leaders who are supposed to know the most?
If someone walks away from you, do you find yourself following them throughout the house or down the street because you’re still trying to prove your point, even if they don’t want to hear it?
Do you refuse to travel, not because you’re afraid to, but because you don’t want to experience a different culture or be surrounded by people that are not like you?
Do you wish there were more people like you but are completely convinced no one will understand you?
Do you think one political party, either “democrats” or “republicans,” are crazy or stupid? What about spiritual versus religious? Yep, when you judge people and justify it by saying you’re right, you’re not being open-minded.)
🙋🏼♀️ I’m definitely guilty of some of those for sure! How about you?
If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re going to talk about the importance of having an open mind, examples of being open-minded, and strategies to become more open-minded.
Why Is It Important to be Open-Minded?
Being an open-minded person affects every single relationship you have. It affects the strength of your relationships. It affects your ability to be an effective manager. It affects how you handle new situations. And open-mindedness affects your willingness to show up for yourself.
Without an open mind, you can’t grow. And in time, this causes you to become stuck—stuck in bad habits, stuck in a cycle of needing to control everything and everyone, and stuck in a very small, lackluster, isolated, lonely life you’re just not happy with.
What is an open-minded person called? A whole lot of adjectives worth striving for! Open-minded people are seen as approachable, observant, tolerant, accepting, impartial, broad-minded, interested, perceptive, unbiased, and understanding.
As a parent, sibling, manager, entrepreneur, best friend, and more—do those qualities matter to you?
An open mind is the antidote to fear. At Fearless Living, an open mind is one of the most important things to bring with you. How can you cast away those incorrect beliefs that say “I can’t” if you don’t open your mind to the world? An open mind replaces fear with possibility. Instead of being afraid of what’s around the next corner, you can be curious and embrace wonderment about what’s ahead.
Having an open mind will help you live a more fulfilling, happy, and healthy life, all while being someone the people around you respect and admire.
What is an Example of Being Open-Minded?
Examples of being open-minded can be both large and small, from being open-minded about other people’s opinions and beliefs to being open-minded about trying a food you’ve never had before.
Let’s get into some real-life examples.
Let’s say your teenager or 20-something has a passion for travel that you just don’t understand. They want to travel the world, but what’s wrong with right here? What’s wrong with being close to your family? Why do they want to be so far away from you?
Now, if you don’t keep an open mind, you might close yourself off to the idea of travel altogether. Your grown child’s dreams don’t align with yours, so how can you relate to them? Why even try when you’re clearly so different?
But keeping an open mind allows you to remember that everyone is different—and that’s perfectly okay!
Our differences are what create opportunities for love, vulnerability, and transparency. Instead of distancing yourself from the people you love, an open mind means every difference is a learning opportunity. Maybe travel isn’t for you, but you can still engage with your kid by having themed dinners to learn more about the various foods of the world. You may not end up liking it, but your mind is open to the possibility, and this openness will help you learn more about your family and build stronger relationships with the people you love.
Are you asking yourself, “how can I be open-minded” yet? Let’s look at an example from the workplace.
Let’s say your coworker has an idea for a big project you’re working on together. But you don’t like their idea, and you’d rather go in another direction.
You could dismiss the idea in favor of your own, but that will degrade the relationship you have with your coworker, and since it’s your idea, you may have to put in even more work—and your schedule is packed as it is.
Instead, you could have an open mind and allow others to contribute to the project in their own way too. This means work is evenly distributed across the team, leaving you a little extra time for some much-needed self-love; plus, your coworker will feel both valued and heard. And hey—you never know. Their idea might turn out to be pure gold!
There are so many benefits of being open-minded both at home and at work. So, how do you become more open-minded, especially when you’ve been close-minded for so long?
How to Become More Open-Minded
1. Let Go of Some Control
First, you must accept that you can’t control everything. You are not the only one person in this big world, and you can’t take on everything yourself.
Whether at home or in the workplace, choose to give others the space to express their opinions and pursue their own ideas. Even if you think you “know” they will get it wrong, it’s important to let them try; otherwise, no one around you will ever have the opportunity to learn. And those you love will never feel seen, heard, cherished, or understood.
If your daughter is terrible at doing the dishes, it doesn’t mean you should take over that chore yourself. Be open to the way she does things, even if it’s not the way you would do it. Let her learn. You can offer guidance, but being upset that it isn’t being done the way you want doesn’t do anyone any good, and it will only breed resentment between the two of you. If you berate her for the way she washes the dishes, do you think she will feel safe coming to you when she has a bigger problem to solve?
On the work side of things, if you’re managing a team and you don’t trust them to carry out any tasks without your guidance, you’re what’s called a micromanager. What happens when you’re always looking over everyone’s shoulder? Your team will lose motivation and morale because they won’t be able to take ownership over any of the work. And you’ll soon be completely burnt out because absolutely every piece of work needs to have your hands on it.
The whole point of having a team is to spread the work around. Just because someone might do something differently or not as fast as you doesn’t mean you need to control it.
By the way, I so know this one. I value excellence. I want everything to be done to the best of everyone’s ability. But for far too long, I didn’t take into account everyone’s best; instead, I compared their work to my best.
What’s so funny is one of my goals when I started in coaching in 1995 was to be a great business leader, a great boss. It took me a good twenty years to finally figure out how to do that. And, first and foremost, it took learning to be open-minded.
Case in point, I recently went away to the ocean for seven days for a long-needed vacation. I told my team no contact—I’m going to give myself a digital detox. As I watched the whales swim by my rented AirBnB and tried to forget about my work, my team was hard at work being better than ever. The first day back, my team announced I should go on vacation more frequently. I got the hint. Back off even more. 😂
To become open-minded, learn to give up some of your control. If I can do it, you can too.
2. Allow Yourself to Get It Wrong
Anyone here afraid of making a mistake? Anyone here afraid of getting an answer wrong? Anyone here afraid of looking silly?
Me too. I was so afraid of feeling stupid and looking like a failure that I didn’t ask a question ever in high school or college. When someone did raise their hand, I whispered under my breath, “stupid,” even though I may not have had the answer myself. Growing up, I was laughed and sneered at if I asked a question, so I learned real quick that asking questions was bad.
That was my fear of failure talking, and it’s a fear that’s super common. So many of us are paralyzed by a deep fear that we may fail—so much so that we stop trying altogether.
In order to have an open mind, you must allow yourself to get things wrong. I know, I know, I know! It’s easier said than done. But if we stop failing, we stop learning, and if we stop learning, we stop living! I can tell you with absolute certainty that you will learn far more from getting things “wrong” than you will from not trying at all. (By the way, if you’re wondering, I am really good at asking questions now because taking risks and growing is more important to me than being right.)
We learn from our failures. We grow and we become even stronger because of them.
Take one small step in the right direction by going easy on yourself. The next time you get something “wrong”, instead of giving into embarrassment, trying to hide it, or engaging in negative self-talk, show yourself some compassion. I’ve learned to laugh at myself in a loving and not sarcastic way. Then I pat myself on the back for putting myself out there.
Allow yourself to get things “wrong”, and take every failure as a learning opportunity.
3. Work With Change Instead of Against It
Change is another incredibly common fear. Fear of change grounds us squarely in the past; it makes us scowl angrily from the sidelines while we watch the people around us learn to move forward and adapt with the times.
It’s hard to get over the outdated or incorrect beliefs handed down to us by our parents and society at large—especially when change comes so fast! You don’t have to agree with everything, and you don’t have to like every change that comes your way. All you need to do is keep an open mind. Instead of immediately saying “NO,” say, “MAYBE!”
One of my Certified Fearless Living Coaches, Jerilyn, always says no when I ask her anything, so now, we play a game together.
“Hey, Jerilyn, say no,” I say.
“What?” she replies.
“Say no,” I say with a huge smile on my face.
“Okay, no,” she usually says with her eyes rolling back in her head.
“Great, now that you got that no out , let me tell you my idea.”
And then we laugh. The jig is up. I see her. She feels seen. She may not say yes right away, or at all, but in that moment, I’m honoring her process, and that gives her time to open her mind to saying yes as well as no.
Keeping an open mind means learning to work with change instead of against it.
There’s no use fighting change because change is constant. It’s one of the few things we can actually count on in this life besides sunsets and taxes. Technology will advance, our careers will develop and change over time, our children will grow up (and so will we!), and the social norms we grew up with won’t stay the same. Everything, everything, everything changes!
The more you fight change, the more harm you do to yourself. The next time you encounter change, instead of immediately fighting against it, take a pause. I encourage you to take a few deep breaths and ask yourself some questions. Why are you fighting against this change? What would happen if you embraced it instead? What possible good could come of this change that didn’t occur to you immediately?
Aunt Dorris was over 80 years old when she got her first smartphone and learned to text with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was willing to change because she wanted to keep up with the times and because if she could text, communication was easier with those she loved. They reached out much more often, sharing photos, emojis, and love. Due to her willingness to change, she never felt lonely, even though she lived alone for many years.
To become more open-minded, accept change as a constant in life and do what you can to work with it instead of against it. If we learn to accept change as a simple fact of life, it can even become comforting. Change isn’t scary; change is reliable! Choose to be open to the possibilities that come with change; after all, change is on its way whether you like it or not.
Be like Aunt Dorris. ❤️
4. Embrace Our Differences
You are unique and beautiful and wonderful! That is the absolute truth! At the same time, your children are unique and beautiful and wonderful, your neighbor is unique and beautiful and wonderful, and that person you just met is also unique and beautiful and wonderful.
As humans, we are all different, and that’s what makes the world such an interesting and special place. It’s OK that you don’t think the same way as everyone else. We would never have new ideas or inventions or interesting conversations if we all thought the exact same way.
Be open-minded with yourself and how you live your life, but also remember to be open-minded about other people’s choices. Embrace our differences. This is the hardest to do when you’re in the middle of a debate or argument. How could the other person possibly have the opinion they have? As hard as it may be, be empathetic and understanding of where other people are coming from.
Reframe “how could they possibly think that?!?!?” into “Isn’t it interesting that they think that—I wonder why?” Ask questions and keep an open mind in order to get to know other people‘s points of view. People love love LOVE when you ask them questions about themselves.
To become more open-minded, embrace other people’s differences, and take time to hear other people‘s opinions (even if you disagree).
This is the way we will heal the world together.
Open Your Mind With Fearless Living
One of the core teachings we lead by in Fearless Living is to begin by being willing.
Being open-minded means you are willing.
Choose to be willing to start, willing to show up for yourself, and willing to do what you can when you can the best you can. The simple act of being willing will help you begin the process of opening your mind. And once you start to open your mind, the possibilities of your life will continue to grow.
You’ll love my 10-week Fearless Living Training Program. It’s based on decades of learning how to crack the secret code to fear, including those fears that keep you from being open-minded. With Fearless Living, you’ll gain insight into what your core fear is, learn how to work with your feelings instead of against them, and how to utilize an open mind for personal growth.
Are you willing to take this step for yourself? Let’s get started!