Outward Mindset

mess up

I have messed up a lot of situations. Usually I blamed others. Most of the time it was my fault.

My oldest son turns 5 tomorrow. Like any father, I think he is an all-star. I love him more than anything. I blame him too often for random acts of annoyance. I take him for granted. I mess up. When I think about him instead of myself though, I stop messing up. That is how it usually is with most relationships.

In my first post-college sales role I knew I was right. I felt my boss was wrong. She wasn’t my real boss. She was just filling in for a week while the official sales manager was out of town. She was good at what she did. I “thought” I was good too. We just had different styles to get the same results. We were helping small business owners create a better online presence. My method took a bit longer to help the buyer make a decision, I felt I was more consultative. She wanted me to work faster. I thought I was helping better by doing it my way. She wanted me to help more people. She was right. I was right. It didn’t matter. We needed to move beyond right wrong.

Your mindset is the foundation of all you do. All actions were first thoughts. Your experiences and their meaning are determined by your mindset. Often people treat us how we expect to be treated. Not all the time, but our inner-view comes out and is manifested in our physical lives.

When it comes to learning and development Carol Dweck teaches that there are two main ways to view the world: with a “fixed” or a “growth” frame of mind. Everything we do is predicated on how we view our ability to adapt. Relationships are the same. We can either grow or allow the relationship to become stale, to stagnate. Stagnation leads to sickness, disease, death etc…

My mindset adjusted the first time after reading Leadership and Self-Deceptionwhen my friend and advisor Dan Mower gave it to me. Then I learned it again when I read the Anatomy of Peace. This week I relearned all those lessons and really gained a deeper appreciation for how to apply them by reading the latest book byThe Arbinger Institute: The Outward Mindset. The book comes out June 13th – I was fortunate to get an early copy! (Thanks James Ferrell) This is probably the most important “business” book I have read. Ever. This book helps us develop as leaders by looking beyond ourselves and focusing on helping others and the team as a way to overcome our own limitations.

When it comes to relationships, leadership, and team performance The Arbinger Institute has developed a framework that simplifies all of our human interactions and then helps us overcome our personal shortcomings. The Arbinger Institute helps people move beyond right and wrong. Moving past who is right vs. who is wrong might be the hardest interpersonal skill anyone can develop. It takes practice, effort, and commitment. It takes the ability to change your mindset.

In Arbinger’s powerful new book: The Outward Mindset, we are taught that there are two specific mindsets, how they impact performance and relationships, and what we can do to change. The ability to understand yourself and understand others is directly related to emotional intelligence. This framework goes much deeper than just being people smart. It works on motivation, outlook, and the ability to adjust personal perspective to help others and in the end make everyone, including yourself, a winner.

The Arbinger Institute’s two “mindsets”:

The Inward Mindset

Thinking only of yourself. Seeing others as objects. When you have an inward mindset you are focused only on your objectives. Most of the time, because you are so focused on yourself, you have no idea where you are… this includes your own mindset. Most people in the inward mindset have no idea that they are there. People with an inward mindset think other people are the problem and cannot even consider the idea that they might be the cause of their own problems.

The Outward Mindset

With an outward mindset the individuals focus on the goals and objectives of the team. They see others as human rather than objects. People with an outward mindset love to help and never blame others. They see every situation as a reason to grow and learn and do what it takes to make those around them better. They focus on empathy for the team and for the individual. People with an outward mindset “see others”. They have empathy and focus on collective goals over personal objectives.

In order to change your personal mindset and your team’s mindset there is a pattern to follow:

  1. Start with your mindset. Find out where you are and where you want to go.
  2. Change first, do not expect others to change.
  3. Allow yourself to change. Give yourself permission.
  4. Take responsibility for the outcomes.
  5. Work on erasing distractions.
  6. Develop systems for you and your team that help turn mindsets outward.

The problem with changing from an inward mindset to an outward mindset is actually realizing that you are wrong in the first place. Admitting that you are focused on yourself is either hard to do or if we do see it, we find ways to justify it. We can explain away most of our behaviors. This leads to more denial and avoidance. No results.

While there is no exact way to do this, asking questions that put the blame inward helps us focus on the outward. Having questions to go along with the pattern creates a good template.

We can reflect and should ask ourselves:

  • How am I creating this problem?
  • What can I do differently?
  • What did I do wrong?
  • How can I help?
  • What does the other person need?

Once we stop blaming others for our situation we can find true progress.The change has to come from within by looking out. We must adjust our focus and then our vision can become clear.

Life is about our experiences and relationships. Developing and outward mindset helps us increase the quality of both. As we develop an outward mindset all of our relationships will improve. We will be happier. We will all find more success. It worked for me. Even though I need to strive for this everyday, I know working toward adjusting my mindset dramatically improves everything important in my life.

Your Turn: What advice can you give to help us change our focus from inward to outward? Please share your experiences and expertise. 

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