The Power of Changing Your Mind - Creating In A Time of Great ChangeShare
Rediscovering the lost art of changing your mind.
A few weeks ago, when all manner of commentary was being made about the goings on in the Supreme Court nomination process, a part of one particular headline stood apart: “the lost art of changing your mind.” While the piece was linked to Senator Jeff Flake’s surprise move to hedge his support of nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the focus of the article was something quite different: hope, something writer Joel Mathis linked to the art of changing your mind. Needless to say, it got me thinking about creativity.
It’s no stretch to declare that changing your mind is what creativity is all about. Creativity is, quite literally, going from one way of thinking and doing to another. When creativity is at its best and most impactful, it is a process of repeatedly, indeed perpetually being open to changing one’s mind.
The connection proves stronger still when you look beyond the individual. Creativity, at least the kind that produces lasting value and impact is always a co-creation. What this means in this context is that in order to create we are ever and always in need of changing each other’s minds. A change of mind need not be a wholesale substitute in thinking. Even a nudge counts. And there is a robust spectrum from nudge to fundamental mind shift in the process of co-creation that relies on both the goal to change minds and the willingness of all of us to have our minds changed.
In Mathis’ article, he made clear that changing your mind rarely happens in isolation. In a polarized, declaration-oriented, 24-hour news cycle, it is in fact pretty hard to even find space to change your mind all of your own accord. Information can help – and Jeff Flake certainty got some from an unanticipated encounter with two females activists who helped call out for him the impact of his way of thinking before they enlightened him in what that frame of mind missed. But we are overloaded and overwhelmed by information, so much so that we cannot blindly count on information as the chief catalyst for changing our minds.
Mathis’ highlighted another important factor that led Senator Flake to change his mind, relationships. Flake himself says that his Democratic Senate colleague, Chris Coons (Flake is a conservative Republican), was key to his ability to see things a different way and to call for actions he hoped might open up his other peers to changing their own minds, even if in modest ways. But pointing out the power of relationships doesn’t peel back quite enough to reveal the true power sources behind why we are able to change one another’s minds: trust and shared purpose. No matter the field, new ideas and seeded and sewn by the degree of trust we have in others. They don’t have to want everything we want, or be like us in every way. They simply need to be trusted that what they offer up is the genuine article. When we can go further to reveal to one another that, whatever our ideas, they are conceived with a shared purpose in mind and a genuine desire to achieve that purpose, we automatically gain the ground to think, ideate, and co-create something better together. Chris Coons and Jeff Flake didn’t change one another or adopt one another’s platforms. But they did change one another’s minds just enough to open a door to possibility that for days, weeks, and months before seemed to be becoming permanently sealed shut.
Annually, for more than a dozen years, leaders across sectors from business to the arts, and local to global politics have shared that the greatest challenge they and their organizations face is a world of growing uncertainty at every level. Just as consistently those same leaders have said, overwhelmingly, that the key skill they need to deal with this daunting new reality is, you guessed it, creativity. Securing that asset has been challenging, and few would declare that even modest successes have come easy. What will change that going forward? Consider that it might be something as seemingly simple as the willingness to change your mind.
Larry Robertson is the author of two award-winning books: ‘The Language of Man. Learning to Speak Creativity’ and ‘A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human Progress’. He’s the founder of two ventures, one for-profit and one non, and a highly respected thought leader in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship, advising individuals and organizations across a broad spectrum. Larry is a graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.