Kevin Knebl, “considered by LinkedIn in 2014 to be The Most Recommended Business Speaker in the World among over 281,298 Business Speakers Worldwide,” posted a comment on LinkedIn today which reads:
“Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”
What an interesting thought. We always hear people say to “keep an open mind” but we don’t think much about how open to keep it. Is it even possible to have too open a mind?
While Kevin’s quote above is somewhat facetious, it also has a lot of truth in it. Let’s break his quote into the obvious two parts.
Keep an open mind
To keep an open mind means to allow oneself to learn from others. Your way of doing something may be just fine. But, if you keep an open mind when someone offers constructive criticism, you may find you can make your way even better.
Does Kevin keep an open mind to find a better way of doing something? I don’t know him personally but based on everything I read from him, his mind is pretty open. He’d happily take constructive criticism.
If you really have an open mind, though, you won’t wait for someone to give you advice. You will seek it out. To truly keep an open mind is knowing that you don’t know everything. You know there is a better way to do everything. You want to find that way and will search until you find it.
Then, after you find that better way to do that thing, you will continue seeking ways to be better. Keep an open mind and you will allow yourself to be great.
But not so open that your brains fall out.
Yes, this quite cynical. Your brains will not fall out.
So, what does he mean? I believe he means to keep an open mind but be careful to what you listen. You could be so willing to get better that you will try anything. That can be dangerous.
Listening to everything people tell you is not a good idea. You have to be skeptical. In the public accounting field, we call it professional skepticism. We keep an open mind but we perform our due diligence to know whether something is true.
You need to do the same. Desire to improve but you truly want to improve. Trying something for the sake of trying it will lead to problems. You don’t want to be gullible.
One thing to take into account when soliciting advice is to ask (or accept) for advice from only those people who have accomplished what you want. You wouldn’t ask for help with electrical wiring from someone who has never changed a light bulb.
Are you the best you can be at every aspect of your life? You would like to say yes but no one can honestly say yes. Even Michael Jordan, at the height of his profession, needed coaches to help him be even better. So do you.
Keep an open mind when going through your day. What can you do better? Or, what do you do pretty well but you’d like to be better? Would you like to be better at your job, have a better relationship with your spouse or spend more time with your kids? Keep an open mind and you can learn to be better.