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Do You Have an Inward or Outward Mindset?

Image of mountain range with loco weed in the foreground.Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, Katherine Broadway

Think about the last time you met someone new. Did you see them as someone similar to yourself? Or did you see them as someone unlike yourself whom you could get to know? The answers are often based on your mindset.

Your mindset is the lens through which you see others. It develops from our experiences in our life. It is the foundation for what we do, how we do it and how we see others. Dr. C. Terry Warner found that there are two distinct mindsets from which people and organizations operate: inward, and outward.

Inward Mindset

We begin life with an inward mindset. We see others as like us. We are unable to differentiate our beliefs, ideals, goals and needs from those of others. We see others as objects to help us meet our needs and desires. If they cannot help us, they have no value to us.

Outward Mindset

As we grow and mature, we have the ability to develop an outward mindset. We are able to see others as individuals rather than objects. Other people matter and we consider their needs, desires, shortcomings and strengths along with our own. We learn to be in relationships with others for the mutual benefit of all, and not solely for our own gain.

Mindset and Daily Life

The preliminary results of an ongoing study conducted by researchers from Georgetown and Cornell Universities show that having an outward mindset improves employee performance and attitudes,…and positively impacts organizational culture and employee engagement. This is true for individuals as well.

An inward mindset, where you are focusing only on yourself, your needs and your goals, will impede your success and sabotage your relationships. An inward mindset will blind you to others, who they are, what they need and how you can work together to grow and create. It creates conflict and pain.

With an outward mindset, you value others. You care about their well-being. It leads you to want to be helpful and to work together for the good of all. An outward mindset will lead you to live your life, do your job and relate to others in ways that demonstrate you care about the collective good. We design our lives and working style to make life more productive and easier for ourselves and others.

“In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.”–Flora Edwards

Tony is a top executive in his company. For years, he struggled with how to handle employees who were under-performing and making serious mistakes. He questioned his evaluations and wondered if he was looking at the situation though a narrow lens. After being introduced to an outward mindset, he looked at the situation through the lens of the employee. This perspective allowed him to detach from his preconceived ideas and become more aware of the facts of the situation. Tony began to find more creative ways to deal with problem employees. In some instances, it helped him realize that the employee was not a good match for his company.

Tamra and her partner had the same fight over and over. Tamra believed that her partner didn't find what she wanted and needed to be important. She began to look at the situation from the view point of her partner. What she realized is that her partner was working to change and had made some “small” changes. She also realized that her partner had a different standards than she did. Tamra was able to begin a conversation about their differences and together they created a solution that they both could live with.

When you are focused only on your own goals, you miss the opportunity to work with others for greater creativity and achievement. With an outward mindset, however, we see others as people who matter as we do. We account for their needs, challenges, and objectives. Our focus shifts to collective results.

Four Ways an Outward Mindset can Improve Your Life at Work and

in Your Relationships

1. Become less conflict-prone and more solution-focused:

Prolonged unresolved conflict consumes energy both physically and emotionally. It undermines relationships even if there is a “peaceful truce.” Instead of living in a fear-based mentality that believes you have to always be “right” and everyone is a rival, you can have a spirit of cooperation and assume good will.

2. Difficult conversations take on a new light:

Rather than seeking out who can be “right,” conversations become about how to reconcile differences, create win-win solutions and work for the mutual good of all. Conversations seek ways to maximize everyone’s talents and focus on creative solutions to best meet the needs and desires of everyone involved.

3. Become more aware of reality rather than being reactive:

An inward mindset leads to thinking only about the impact the situation is having on you. The impact you are having on others goes unnoticed. An outward mindset causes you to not think about or be aware of how you effect others. Changing this will lead to increased cooperation.

4. Increases Creativity:

An outward mindset is the belief that there is enough to go around. We cannot get everything we want all the time, but we can work toward solutions that take into account what everyone needs. This dramatically improves relationships, increases performance, sparks collaboration, and accelerates creativity.

Do you want to learn how to develop an outward mindset and what is in your way of achieving that? I can help you become more aware of your beliefs and attitudes that get in your way. Call me at: (919) 881-2001

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