The Journey From Inward to Outward Mindset

Being the introvert that I am, it took me a couple of days to process my amazing experience at the WorkHuman conference in Nashville. After some reflection and reviewing my notes, my most impactful takeaway from the conference was shared by the Arbinger Institute regarding their work and research in the field of “mindset.”

Our mindset “informs which behaviors we choose and the effectiveness of these behaviors.” Our mindset “refers to the way people see and regard the world – how they see others, circumstances, opportunities, and obligations.” There are 2 mindsets – inward and outward.

At an organizational level, mindsets are important due to their influence on our continued ability to adapt, grow and succeed.

“Organizations that identify and address the pervasive mindsets at the outset are 4 times more likely to succeed in organizational-change efforts than organizations that overlook this stage.”

(Source: “Lead at Your Best,” Joanna Barsh and Johanne Lavoie, McKinsey Quarterly, April 2014)

At an individual level, moving from an inward to an outward mindset is often “life-changing.” Once we choose to not to treat people as objects but to treat them as people, we are able to escape a “dark and cramped space” where we have been living our “self-justifying, woe is me” story.

“Not caring about others (outward mindset) might seem to make our lives simpler, but nothing could be further from the truth. Not caring to notice or be moved by others requires something of us that takes a tremendous personal and social toll – it requires us to feel justified for not caring. We find justification by focusing on others’ faults, real and imagined. We take up self-justifying and others-blaming narrative, which comes at great personal and social cost. We value other people’s failures because they give us an excuse for why we shouldn’t have to help them, and I value our own personal failures because they give us proof that others have done us wrong.”

Bottom line:

Our mindset is critical and totally our choice. To help ourselves, our teams and our organizations thrive, let us take control of our behavior by focusing on and understanding our default mindset. Commit to seeing others as people and focus our behavior on advancing the collective good.

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