Let me guess – it’s 2019 and you made some New Year’s resolutions – right? What you’re really thinking is that you can’t wait for February – so that you can return to your old habit and not feel guilty.  Habits can be a trap for people in leadership positions – whether they are in business, politics or in any other industry.

Simply making a New Year’s resolution to have a more open mind in 2019 likely won’t be enough to turn things around. There are behaviors and practices that, through repetition and perseverance, can help leaders and anyone else develop a mindset that’s open to imaginative and better ideas.

Here are some tips to hopefully keep you on track for the month of January!!!

• Formulate powerful questions. Generating ideas starts with asking the right questions and the best questions are thought-provoking. They challenge underlying assumptions and invite creativity. Train yourself to catch poorly designed questions, asked by you or someone else, and reformulate them. Questions that begin with “why,” “what” and “how” are best because they require more thoughtful responses than those that begin with “who,” “when,” “where” and “which.” Especially avoid questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.”

• Expand your sphere of influence. We are strongly influenced, for better or worse, by the small group of people that we interact with on a daily basis. Since we tend to hang out with people who are fairly similar to ourselves, chances are we are limiting our perspectives. You should make a deliberate effort to encounter people and ideas that are different from the usual suspects you hang out with. Visit a conference of a different profession, join NXT and become a professional wrestler or buy a magazine randomly off the shelf.

• Break your patterns. You can increase your chances of seeing things differently if you deliberately break your normal pattern of working, communicating, thinking, reacting and responding. Take a different route to work. Change where you sit in meetings. If you are normally the first to volunteer, hold back.

Learn to listen. We’ve all been taught the importance of being good listeners. The problem is most of us struggle to actually do it. Often when people are “listening,” they really are waiting for the first opportunity to share their story, their opinion or their experience. You should train yourself to engage in three pure listening conversations a week. These conversations don’t need to be longer than 15 to 20 minutes, they can be formal or informal, and the other person doesn’t need to know what you’re doing. Vow that you won’t try to take over the conversation no matter how much you want to. Just keep asking questions and don’t dismiss anything the other person says. After the conversation, reflect on what you learned. Don’t dismiss any ideas or views that don’t align with yours. Dare to challenge your own assumptions and reframe your beliefs if need be. 

Challenge yourself and try some of these tips for 21 days — and worst case scenario — you’ve made it to February!  Best case scenario – some of these practices took you out of your comfort zone and you’re noticing some inner growth.

Free Your Mind!