Don’t Believe Everything You Think: Changing Your Mindset

by Christopher Cook

Don’t believe everything you think. Does that mean what you think is wrong? Does that mean everything up until this point is a lie? Of course not. It is a way to re-examine your thoughts and processes. Best practices are an example of not believing everything you think. A practice may be working smoothly, but that does not mean it cannot change for the better. I’m discussing the hive mind, how to use constructive criticism to challenge your way of thinking, how to become a better listener, and idea-sharing to help you improve your thought process and change your mindset.


The Hive Mind

Not only is this system great for documentation, but it also creates a hive mind where anyone can pick up where the other left off and continue to produce. Creating this system is simple. Come up with an email address and start up a virtual office phone number. That part is easy. Changing the hive mind means learning how to communicate effectively in this setup—and it’s a monster step.

Every day, a subtle nuance improves the way this system works. We think the virtual office number is a great idea until the phone number is changed to a fax number. No phone calls coming in and complaints of eardrums being blown out by the loud ringing noise from a fake fax machine is not the best way to implement this system.

Once that is changed, now manipulating the thought process around this system. It is an extra step in making phone calls and sending texts, so it appears inefficient at the beginning. Why can’t I just make a phone call like normal and get things done quickly? Because in the back end, no one knows you made that phone call about the repair unless you write it down somewhere or update the team (often forgot).

This hive mind constantly checks what you know and what you thought you knew. The ego plays a large role in personalizing what you know. If you consider yourself smart and you are the boss, your thoughts are rarely challenged. No one pushes back as they take orders from you. So, who better to check yourself than you? This can go a long way to changing your mindset.


Constructive criticism to challenge your way of thinking

Constructive criticism can be difficult to accept when you are a leader. A mentor can provide that but is not always around to see the daily inner workings of the operation. People offer advice indirectly through code words or phrases but do not share the truth in a matter of fact way.

If you are going to be successful in changing your mindset, you must challenge your knowledge base. You know yourself best. Where are you weak? Where are you strong? You do not know what you do not know. Use this as a basis for learning. Start filling in those holes with knowledge. Start broadening your perspective to eliminate blind spots.


Become a better listener

Becoming a better listener is the basis for not thinking you know everything. Each person you speak to should be viewed as someone who knows something you do not. That factoid could be unrelated to the project or work, yet somewhere down the road, probably in conversation, you are going to bring it up and influence those around you.

You thought you would never need to know the Italian translation for espresso is “when something is forced out” until someone starts talking about how they love espresso, and you can hit them with this fact bomb. In return, he or she may have a fact for you about espresso, or you learn some more information about him or her as an individual. Becoming a better listener allows you to take in ideas and new ways of seeing and doing things and opens your mind to new opportunties.


Idea sharing

Idea-sharing is not a zero-sum game. If you possess information and share it, that does not mean you lose the information—quite the opposite. You will more than likely gain some information in exchange for yours. Your one idea will turn into two, which is a 100% return on investment.

With return rates like that, why isn’t idea-sharing more prevalent? It always appears like people hold their cards close to their chests as if sharing releases the secrets of the world. In reality, your idea is not so world-changing, and your audience may have already thought of that idea and bypassed it. It’s only when we share ideas that we can truly change our mindset.


Change Your Mindset

You are smart, but probably not the smartest. That statement does not knock your intelligence. It offers you room to grow and learn. This mindset should be freeing. There is no longer pressure to have answers at every turn. You can say, “I don’t know,” and it is acceptable.

By becoming a better listener, you start to learn from others. Imagine everyone you come in contact with as your professor for the moment. They have something you do not. That something may be a simple fact you can use in general conversation later, or they have the answer to your biggest obstacle currently.

The sources may surprise you. Someone could tell a story about their grandparents, and that gives you the idea to pick one direction over the other. Use lateral thinking to solve problems. Make the connections between their stories to your projects.

Idea sharing is one of the best investments you can make. You double your return instantaneously. The second you invest an idea in someone else, they will invest an idea in you. Those ideas, compounding over time, give you a plethora of information to choose from. Remember to see constructive criticism as a tool to expanding how you see things and think.

All of this influence comes from the original idea of not believing what you think. The uncomfortable state of being wrong can turn you into a powerful knowledge machine that gets stronger over time.


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