7 Ways to Immediately Open Your Mind to Useful Ideas

You can’t be open to everything.

Open-minded leadership is a pernicious waste of time when you lose sight of outcomes. So how can you open your mind without wasting time on useless conversations?


Success is confirmation. Failure is education.

7 ways to immediately open your mind to USEFUL ideas:

#1. Sniff the stink.

An open mind loves learning. You learn from mistakes and screwups. Success is confirmation. Failure is education.

#2. Question the obvious.

Just about the time you think you know something, the door to your mind slams shut.

  1. What’s working? Why is it working?
  2. What makes you say that?
  3. What if we’re wrong?
  4. What assumptions are guiding this decision?

#3. Confess mistakes.

An open-minded response to painful mistakes is the source of…

  1. Honest confession. “I screwed up.”
  2. Innovative suggestions. “What could I have done differently?”
  3. Humble response. “Next time, I’ll…”
  4. Responsibility taking. “This is what I’m doing to make things right.”

#4. Seek wisdom in the right place.

Look for wisdom from people who actually do something. What if the suits around the table are self-protective, narrow-minded, and self-serving?

The people who do stuff have useful insight when they embrace your vision.

#5. Reject butt-kissers and brown-nosers.

#6. Honor the ‘right’ people.

Honor people who energize high performance in others.

Retrain, marginalize, or remove persistent de-energizers.

#7. Choose contrarians carefully.

Welcome contrarians that see the big picture. There’s no virtue in always being against. But contrarians with vision bring value to an open mind.

3 questions to be open-minded AND on track:

Conversations need boundaries to deliver useful results.

Direction is protection for an open mind.

  1. How does this nudge us in the right direction?
  2. What will we achieve if we take this step?
  3. What is the goal of this suggestion?

Open-minded leaders – apart from clear direction – wallow in distraction and irrelevance.

What makes an open mind useful? Not useful?

How might leaders develop an open mind?