The Open Mind Experiment
The Open Mind Experiment
I did a quick experiment this past week while traveling for work. I spent nearly five hours stuck in airports and a continuous 48 hours working an event working with volunteers, athletes and their crews which were made up of family members and friends of the athletes. Early in the week, I caught myself sitting on an airport bench being pissed off after dealing with a totally rude TSA worker, followed by awful service in an airport restaurant. While siting and waiting for my plane to board, I heard a man screaming as he exited the aircraft I was about to get on. He went postal on the gate attendant because he had little time to get to his connecting flight. Immediately, I walked to the gate attendant and apologized that she had to deal with this asshole. She responded, almost in tears, “I deal with so many people like that every day that I am almost numb to them”. Quickly, she shook off the incident, smiled and said, “I do however, get the opportunity to meet amazing people everyday”. Now, this woman had nothing to do with this man’s inconvenience and in no way deserved to be treated this way. I was blown away. I sat back down and thought to myself that just moments before, I had been sitting there being pissed off about my own situation. This was a wake up call to the fact that we all have a choice in the way we react to any situation. We may not have control over the situation itself (like the man having to rush to catch his connection), but we absolutely have control over our reaction to the situation.
Because of my experience with this gate attendant, I challenged myself to a little self-experiment. I decided that for the rest of the week, I would approach every interaction I had with people with an open mind – no matter the situation. I wanted to see when things became difficult how well I could find opportunity.
I arrived in Austin, and we rented a car for the event. We drove 40 minutes to the event site and met with members of the community that were hosting our event. They were to supply us with volunteers to staff aid stations and our start/finish line. Immediately, they said that the 30 volunteers they promised us were not available. They could provide us 11. Here was my first challenging situation. I was upset because this meant that we would be running the event with a skeleton crew. This placed an awful burden on us and could compromise the quality of the event. I held a meeting with the 11 volunteers to explain what we had to accomplish. The 11 people that took time out of their busy schedule, coupled with the incredible motivation to serve people they didn’t know, amazed me. After speaking with each of them, I realized they all provided a multitude of secondary skills that we lacked and would enhance the event experience. They were all up for working additional hours to get the job done.
We went drove the rental car to dinner that evening and out of the blue the front left tire blew out. This was not just a typical flat but the side of the tire had exploded. It was completely faulty! I changed the tire and we decided to go to dinner and drive back to airport to exchange the car for a new one. The young man at the rental car booth said that we were responsible for paying for the new tire, which was the company policy. My colleague blew a gasket. He started to berate the attendant. At that point, I was reminded of the situation at the airport. I said, “no problem, I understand that you are just doing your job. We’ll just file the paper work to dispute it through company channels”. The young man said he appreciated it and even though he was following company policy, he under stood our frustration. He also handed us a telephone number to the head of conflict resolution (which was not listed in the paperwork) and told us that if we called him and texted pictures of the tire, he would waive the charge. We did as he recommended and within 10 minutes the situation was resolved.
The rest of the week went about the same – it pissed rain the entire event but instead of getting mad, random people came out of the woodwork to help. We were short of help breaking down the event site, so randomly, 5 men serving community service nearby for crimes committed, came by and offered their services.
My flight back home was delayed for 3 hours. So, instead of getting mad I picked a group of people to talk to in the airport bar, which resulted in a big six accounting firm interested in using Rogue Consulting Group for a leadership program.
I know that this may sound too good to be true. Don’t get me wrong, there were so many times when I wanted to lose my shit. It was extremely difficult to keep an open mind and look for opportunity. Also, there were times when my preconceived notions of a situation or my bias took over. But ultimately, by taking a moment to really examine what you have control over and how you react to it can be very freeing. You can allow the good in people (including yourself) to emerge and opportunities can present themselves.
Some of the great benefits I received from this weeks experiment:
- Lacking volunteers – I worked harder physically so I was able to get in a workout without knowing it.
- Blown tire – Taught whom to call in a rental car company to get things resolved. Also, I had to change a tire – additional workout!!
- New business opportunities are everywhere if you are willing to approach every personal interaction with an open mind.
- People are always looking to make a difference if given an opportunity. Allow them to and return the favor.
When I got back top Denver, I researched open mindedness. I found a list of benefits I thought I would share. Give it a try. Approach life with an open mind. You may be very surprised to see the benefits you will experience. For some, being open-minded is easy; it comes as effortlessly as breathing. For others, having an open mind can be more of a challenge, something that they have to work on and make an effort to obtain. Whether or not you consider yourself to be open-minded, you can certainly see from the list below that there are great benefits to viewing life with an open mind. It’s not always an easy thing to do (believe me, most people struggle with this), but the effort to think openly and embrace new ideas will be worth it when you’re able to take part in the benefits that come from opening your mind.
At Rogue Consulting Group, our focus is creating experiences that promote growth. This growth is maximized only when we approach life with an open mind. To participate in a RCG program, contact us at www.rogueconsultinggroup.com.
The 7 Benefits of Being Open-Minded
Letting go of control. When you open your mind, you free yourself from having to be in complete control of your thoughts. You allow yourself to experience new ideas and thoughts and you challenge the beliefs you currently have. It can be very liberating to look at the world through an open mind.
Experiencing changes. Opening up your mind to new ideas allows you to the opportunity to change what you think and how you view the world. Now, this doesn’t mean you necessarily will change your beliefs, but you have the option to when you think with an open mind.
Making yourself vulnerable. One of the scariest (and greatest) things about seeing the world through an open mind is making yourself vulnerable. In agreeing to have an open-minded view of the world, you’re admitting you don’t know everything and that there are possibilities you may not have considered. This vulnerability can be both terrifying and exhilarating.
Making mistakes. Making mistakes doesn’t seem like it would be much of a benefit, but it truly is. When you open your mind and allow yourself to see things from others’ perspectives, you allow yourself not only to recognize potential mistakes you’ve made, but also to make new mistakes. Doesn’t sound like much fun, but it’s a great thing to fall and get back up again.
Strengthening yourself. Open-mindedness provides a platform on which you can build, piling one idea on top of another. With an open mind you can learn about new things and you can use the new ideas to build on the old ideas. Everything you experience can add up, strengthening who you are and what you believe in. It’s very hard to build on experiences without an open mind.
Gaining confidence. When you live with an open mind, you have a strong sense of self. You are not confined by your own beliefs, nor are you confined by the beliefs of others. For that reason, you are able to have and gain confidence as you learn more and more about the world around you. Open-mindedness helps you to learn and grow, strengthening your belief in yourself.
Being honest. There is an honesty that comes with an open mind because being open-minded means admitting that you aren’t all-knowing. It means believing that whatever truth you find might always have more to it than you realize. This understanding creates an underlying sense of honesty that permeates the character of anyone who lives with an open mind.
Have a great week.