Open vs Closed Minded

by Ron Potter

Why is it that some people seem to make constant progress in their professional and personal lives, while others appear to be doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over?

While the answer isn’t cut and dry, I’ve noticed an interesting mindset difference between these two groups: they approach obstacles and challenges very differently. It comes down to mindset.

Successful people tend to approach life with an open mindset — an eagerness to learn and a willingness to be wrong. The other group digs their heels in at the first sign of disagreement and would rather die than be wrong.

Shane Parrish, Farnam Street Blog

Business journalist and television personality, Suzy Welch talks about two qualities necessary to get ahead:

1. Grit
Inevitably you’re going to receive some tedious assignments. Completing them with a positive attitude, Welch says, is something your boss will notice.

“Grit is getting the job done without complaint,” Welch says, “especially in challenging situations.”

To show grit, don’t give up when the simplest solution isn’t an option. Be creative and show resolve in completing the assignments you’re given. Welch says a boss can identify grit in an employee who demonstrates “perseverance, resolve, creativity, and the ability to just figure it out.”

“Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty.” was the definition given to us in last week’s blog by author, Heidi Grant Halvorson.

2. Gravitas
The second trait, gravitas, is all about presence and the way you carry yourself.

Welch describes this elusive characteristic as a mixture of “seriousness, maturity, thoughtfulness, wisdom” — traits that are tough to fake, and that will lead your boss and colleagues to respect you and give your perspective greater consideration.

You can also cultivate gravitas, Welch says, through the behaviors you avoid, like gossiping, being unprepared for meetings, interrupting others, or improvising important presentations.


Of the two, grit seems to be the one that can be developed over time.

  • Getting the job done without complaint.
  • Don’t go with the simplest solution.
  • Commit to long-term goals
  • Creativity

The attribute that is more difficult to learn over time is creativity.

Some personality types are more prone to “doing it by the book”.  Others feel that creativity requires coming up with complex and completed solutions that no one has thought of.  Both are wrong!

Creative Types

One exercise I’ve run with teams has been about creativity.  Unbeknownst to the team, I divided them into the personality types that naturally tend to be more by the book and those who tend to be more creative.  I give them the same exercise that requires creativity and measure the results.  The “creative team”

  • Shows the most creativity in the first round.
  • On the second round there may be some creativity but at a much lower scale.
  • By the third round, the “creative’ types are generally out of ideas.

By the book types

This type performs at a much different cadence.

  • In the first round, these types often complain that the creative types somehow “broke” the rules.  Although most of the rules are in their head.
  • In round two, once they realize that the rules are more flexible than they imagined, the come up with a substantial about of creativity.  However, it is usually less creativity than the other team achieved in the first round.
  • By round three, the creativity continues at a pace similar to the last round.
  • And for several subsequent rounds, the pace of creativity continues.

The other issue I see with the “By the Book” types is feeling that a creative solution should be complex and complete.  The best and most creative solutions are simple.

“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the meaningful” – John Maeda

Both types are Creative

It’s simply a matter of pace.  Creativity types seem to exhibit the most gain early.  But burn out quickly.

“By the Book” types may demonstrate more creativity over time.  It just takes more time.


Too me this seems to be the trait that’s harder to develop over time.

It’s dependent on the mindset of Creative vs Victim.  I’ve written a few blogs on this concept and it seems to strike a chord with many of my readers.

If you’ve adopted the Victim mindset, there is no way to project Gravitas.  Remember that Welch describes these as “seriousness, maturity, thoughtfulness, wisdom.”  Being a victim projects none of these traits.

If you’re serious about developing this trait of Gravitas, then it requires a trusted, truthful mentor.  This type of mentor tells you the truth, both good and bad.  This type of mentor also helps you get to the root of the victim issue rather than simply adjusting the traits that look like gravitas.

Open vs Closed mindset will make all the difference in your career and life.  Grit and Gavitas: develop them for your own well being.  Others will also notice.


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