Step two: Open-mindedness
This is the second in a series of 12 steps suggesting how to turn your business around. These steps can also serve as reminders for business owners and their employees who want to make their businesses run more smoothly and successfully.
Albert Einstein is attributed as coining the phrase, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Many of us have a tendency to do just that. You’ve probably had a divorced friend who, when they remarry, marries the same personality type as spouse No. 1.
Another example is when you buy the same style of clothes in the same colors for decades, even though the styles and your body shape have changed. It’s kind of like that old guy down the street who’s been a hippy since the 1960s. Habitual thinking inhibits our ability to be open-minded. That “it’s my way or the highway” attitude can get us into a lot of trouble. Being open-minded doesn’t mean tolerating bad behavior, becoming a wimp or even being politically correct. Open-mindedness means being more tolerant, fair-minded and receptive to new ideas. There are many stories of great ideas coming from people you may least expect, but more often, great ideas come from teams of people.
Many business owners believe if they work harder and spend more hours at work, the business will turn around and succeed. They also believe if they just add another product or service, the problem will be solved. They spend more time working “in” the business when they need to spend more time working “on” the business. Looking outside ourselves for solutions can reap rewards, and that is where listening comes into play as well.
A highly self-confident entrepreneur can find listening difficult, and I have found this to be tough for me, too. I now realize I can learn a great deal by, instead of constantly thinking about a problem, listening to others. Our Tower Force guys in the field have an insight and daily experience that those of us in the office do not have. They have brought problems to our attention and they have provided many solutions. We should also remember that the good and viable solutions offered by field workers, the sales team and the backroom service team are of no value unless management implements those solutions.
Open-mindedness makes way for innovation. Peter Drucker calls it “organized, systematic, rational work” when people see things differently and arrange their businesses accordingly. Open-mindedness can also mean delving more deeply into customer needs or empathizing with customers and anticipating their needs. What’s a business without customers?
I mentioned a quote from Albert Einstein earlier, and now I’ll close with a quote by the English scholar and poet, John Donne: “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
To be open-minded is to let people in and be receptive without becoming a rubber stamp. To be open-minded, one must be humble and not conceited. Many say open-mindedness is a critical life skill, but I think it is critical to a business’ life as well.
Also published in BIC Magazine.
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