The quote “A mind is like a parachute – it doesn’t work unless it is open” can be attributed to many sources including people as diverse as Frank Zappa, Charlie Chan and Thomas Dewar.
Regardless of the source, it is a challenge to us on many levels. Listening is the key to an open mind, I believe. Actually listening not just hearing what is being said. After that it is taking time to process what you think you have heard into some framework you can question or utilise.
Questioning what you think you have heard is important. How often, in any situation, have you heard something that the person beside you did not hear or process in the same way? An easy example ( and a humorous one from comedian Billy Connelly) is the question from a parent to a child “Do you want a smack?” What we think we are saying (and what we hear) as a parent is a warning to stop whatever is causing the situation requiring control. What the child hears may be that same warning but other children may just hear the question as it was asked – to which they would probably answer ‘no”.
This is an oversimplification but it does illustrate the point.
Back to our open minds.
In business and in life we don’t have all the answers. We need to seek out a new way, a different way, a solution to a problem we have not encountered before. Maybe no-one has encountered this particular problem before so we need to reach further afield to find help.
A closed mind says it can’t be done. My response is why specifically not? Then for each of the objections/hurdles, I seek solutions one at a time. Going down that path might have lots of twists and turns but by actually going down the path we can learn and grow in ways we didn’t foresee at the start.
A closed mind says its been tried before and didn’t work. Again I want specifics. What exactly didn’t work? Can we learn and adapt from that particular part of the activity? Is it a different scenario this time around in terms of technology or other resources?
As humans, we have been endowed with a brain. We should be using it to maintain its peak condition. That means keeping it open to new, different and challenging ideas, solutions, activities and processes.
Cultivating an open mind comes as a result of listening, critical thinking and reasoning.