Archive for May, 2011

cultivating an open mind

cultivating an open mind

Most of us claim to have an open mind, but we often stop walking the talk when it comes to certain beliefs and opinions, some which can be held dogmatically. Dogma can lead to intolerance (does anyone spring to mind?)  No matter how open minded we think we are, we still shut off new things or alternative perspectives, just not realising the rut we’re in.

An open mind doesn’t mean that we fail to develop convictions, rather it means being able to question things – even our central beliefs. It gives us the capacity to think on both sides of an argument, and the chance to grow, and to change. I was surprised, early in my career, to see the reluctance of people to embrace change, and so developed an appetite for helping people and organisations accept and grow with change.

There are two paradoxes associated with change. Firstly, to achieve continuity, we have to be willing to change. Change is in fact the only way to protect what exists, for without continuous readjustment the present can’t continue. A marriage, a career, a dream for the future are all destroyed if they don’t change over time. The second paradox is that the very things we wish to hold on to and keep safe from change, were originally produced by changes.

Having an open mind takes courage, because it challenges our minds. After all, we can decide whether we want to be disturbed or remain in the comfort zone, both personally and professionally.  I think that the keys to an open mind are curiosity, and affirmative listening. When we listen affirmatively we listen for the possibilities for ourselves and others, we hear more than the words, and we hear the person behind the words. 

Being open minded keeps alive the childlike appetite for what’s next, and enriches our lives. This often occurs through working together with like-minded people to express our own values, but can also occur through partnerships that are not as obvious.

There are many examples of people with different mindsets and beliefs coming together to achieve amazing things. In these cases, on open mind or a willingness to overcome barriers to partnerships that don’t come naturally, is important.

 I continue to be excited about the possibilities around partnerships across generations. Business and life experiences with my children and their mates have been inspiring. They bring fresh ideas, hunger and new skill sets to the table of experience and wisdom. There are so many opportunities for young people and older people to work effectively together. Bring it on! Combine the dreamers and the pragmatists, the wired and the wise to capture the benefits of mutual learning, and the different perspectives that resonate with different audiences….and do it with an open mind.

Can I challenge you this week to take on one thing that you’ve made your mind up about….and open it?

we took them for granted

Flathead fillets at $45 a kg! Rabbit at $32 a kg! Individually wrapped quinces in tissue paper @ $4 each in Fourth Village Providore. Figs 2 for $5. Excuse me! Quinces and figs were left to rot on the ground 30 years ago.

Growing up in Gippsland, flathead and rabbits were accessible to any old hunter-gatherer with a fishing rod, ferret and some local knowledge. My father in law, Frank Ferrari, bought rabbits at one and six (15 cents) a pair. No-one wanted rabbit – chicken was a treat. We used to joke about Kentucky Fried Rabbit, thinking that some cheating Yank was denying consumers their advertised chicken. Now the boot’s on the other foot with the bunnies bringing three times the price of low flying pigeon.

Unwanted cuts like ox tails and lamb shanks are now making the butcher a healthy margin as Master Chef fuelled enthusiasts serve trendy comfort food. We knew they were good, but assumed they would continue to be cheap and undiscovered. Don’t tell anyone about the lamb back-straps at $5 a kg or what a Moore Park apricot straight off the tree tastes like!

What else today is relatively less affordable and less accessible than it was 30 years ago? Consider water and petrol, energy and houses, mushrooms and passionfruit.

What do we value now that we took for granted then? Consider space and silence, family time and customer service, less choice and clean air. It’s interesting to see how making a virtue of the fact there’s no mobile phone reception at Corinna (an eco-tourism destination on Tasmania’s west coast), resonates with guests. A temporary escape from a wired and complex world!

We’ve seen a revival of home gardens and of course the farmer’s market phenomenon has caught on like wildfire (sadly to the point of opportunistic commercialisation in some cases). I reflect on the paradox of cocooning on the one hand and connectedness on the other, as we react and learn to cope with a constantly changing world, and as we search for authenticity over superficiality.

Many goods and services are becoming more affordable and accessible, but the interesting question is, “What are we taking for granted today that will be more valued in 30 years from now?” What do you think?