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Mental Bandwidth – Being An ‘Open Mind’.

Are you open to new ways to do things, of thinking about things from a different perspective, to jettison old beliefs and judgments, to let go of views that are precious to those that have served you well for years? Really – how can you be so sure without testing the question first?

Mr Carl Jung will set the scene with these wise words:

“In the second half of life the necessity is imposed of recognising no longer the validity of our former ideals but of their contraries. Of perceiving the error in what was previously our conviction, of sensing the untruth in what was our truth…”

Lets cut to the chase here. Many of us do not consciously recognise if we are in an ‘open or closed mind’ on a daily, hourly minute by minute basis. Things come at us so fast and our ‘go to’ position surfaces so quickly that it is difficult to be sure about out state of openness.

Our personal and professional success can be limited because we are not consciously aware of our own tunnel vision, attachment to outdated views and blinkered thinking.

So are YOU open minded? Really? How do you know? What do you do to ensure you are regularly testing, discarding and replacing your own views and beliefs? What deliberate PLAN do you have to stretch and increase your ability to absorb new and different ideas and stay ahead of the accelerating curve?

Personal Bandwidth refers to your ABILITY to absorb & leverage data from a wider and widening spectrum. It’s about creating a bigger funnel for your insight and wisdom capture. It’s not just about being smarter or more intelligent (with the information that you already have).

What’s worth considering is that the speed, ease and amount of insight you can absorb can be increased and your capacity to take in alternative viewpoints and world views widened.

The wider the FM radios bandwidth the more frequencies it can intercept and play. It’s about training yourself to open your ears, eyes and mind to wider frequencies. It’s about developing your ability to listen to different ideas, opinions and to people you don’t necessarily like. In doing so, increasing your choices and options.

Here’s how – a Top Ten from moving from FM to Digital bandwidth capability:

  1. Give up what you think the future should look like.
    Attachment to a particular set of outcomes limits creativity. If you are attached to a sinking ship you go down with it – no matter how beautiful the ship is. If your great idea isn’t working, it’s not a great idea – full stop. What is it you do not want to hear about you your or businesses impending future?
  2. Stop trying to protect what you have or what you’ve created. Be able to afford to ‘lose it all.’
    Give up your ‘right to be right’ about everyone and everything. What would you rather be – right or moving forward? Pride and ego are mortal enemies of progress and creativity. Too frequently, I catch myself clinging to a point in a disagreement with my wife even though I just realised she was right all along. How insane is that?!
    You may consider being able to ‘lose it all’ is melancholy if you wish. However, it really helps when the best-made plan or your top talent becomes redundant and you have the agility and lightness to let go and forge on. What idea, view or plan are you trying to protect that you would be better off letting go?
  3. Stop trying to prove something to others or to yourself. Give it up.
    Trying to prove that you are clever, tough, fun, worthy, optimistic, and productive and so on is not only needy, but also a mentally demanding pursuit. Courting approval wastes precious energy and limits challenging thinking or controversial conversations. To paraphrase Churchill. “You can please all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” Where is your energy being driven by proving something about yourself versus doing what’s right?
  4. Switch off to people if you must – but not to their ideas or what they have different to say.
    Ok, so you don’t like what they are saying, or the cut of their jib. Step beyond those audio or visual judgements and listen to what they have to say. In every initiative I have been involved in I make an immediate judgement about someone or something; wise up to it and get proven completely wrong. It’s often after I have missed a great idea or point of theirs that would have really helped… if only I had been able to hear it. Who do you know that has stand up ideas… just you can’t stand to hear them? Yip, that’s the fella – now practice opening up your frequency to hear what they have to say.
  5. Get a vision that’s far bigger than you are.
    That means you can’t do it alone. If your plan is bigger than your current level of thinking you need others opinions and views – and you have to be open minded for that to occur. Get the big vision first and then work on the open-minded bit – much more effective than vice versa. If your current vision means you can do it all alone – check out if you playing too small. It does not mean you have to rule the world by the way. What’s the bigger picture for you? Where do you want to be in 10 years? Who with? How much money will you need for that sort of business or life that needs planning for now?
  6. Adopt a ‘wonder & curiosity’ mentality. One of the best bits of coaching I ever had was to work on approaching challenging, difficult, painful or unexpected circumstances with wonder and curiosity. Next time when faced with some ‘bad news’ instead of saying ‘Oh bugger‘ switch to ‘How interesting?‘ Try exchanging blame for self and others, self-pity, disappointment and regret with wonder and curiosity questions that provoke responsibility. “What is my part in this?” “What is experience handing me here?” “How can I leverage the situation to my advantage?” Those questions expand bandwidth. I’m not saying it’s easy either. (Honest, train yourself to swap ‘Oh S***’ for ‘How Interesting’ and see how more agile and better inspiring to others you become.
  7. Eliminate all blocks to intellectual and emotional superconductivity.
    Read alternative, self-challenging, and cutting edge material. For instance, if you read a left wing newspaper swap occasionally for a right wing one to practice hearing what the other view is.
    Stop putting up with people or situations that you are tolerating or drain your energy. Make a list of all the people and situations that are sapping your energy and have a plan for handling each one.
  8. Be willing to make lots of mistakes and course correct. Perfectionists take heed. Even though they don’t know exactly how they’re going to do something, high-performing people keep their vision of the end-result uppermost in their minds and forge ahead anyway. They believe that they’ll get the help they need (and they ask for it), find the resources they need, make mistakes and figure out the how-to as they go.
  9. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
    Its impossible to expand your thinking if you are not clearing mental space. Simplifying ones life is not limited to moving to the Cotswold’s and raising rare breed pigs. Automate, eradicate and delegate everything that you can – all the 15 minute jobs add up and clutter our heads. Bills on direct debit, electronic diaries, service agreements for stuff at home and work, groceries delivered, video conferencing instead of driving everywhere.
  10. Hang out with others who have plenty of bandwidth and learn from them.
    Find people who challenge your thinking, devils advocates, those you can trust to not blindly agree with you. (If you can’t think of at least 3 people you regularly relate to that have those qualities then you need to search them out). Good managers, coaches, bosses force bandwidth expansion as a matter of course.

Paul Fox
Paul Fox

Paul Fox has been active as a Construction Industry Performance Coach for the last 20 years and remains at the forefront of Collaborative Working and High Performance Team Behaviours. He disrupts the status quo of individuals, project and senior teams who want exponentially more output with much less struggle.

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