Solving a problem is greatly aided by a big-minded approach instead of a small-minded one. Small minds tend to focus on obstacles to overcome. Big minds see opportunities that leap over obstacles.
Small-minded people go with what they know. Big-minded people survey a wider universe to find a smart idea.
To be sure, all of us can be big-minded and small-minded in different circumstances. But the lubrication that enables someone to move beyond a constricted view is curiosity.
I made this point while giving an informational interview to a soon-to-graduate marketing major from Portland State University. She asked simply how my firm, which is celebrating its 25th year in business, has adapted.
After noting we never created a brochure and that we start every client pitch from scratch, I said our fundamental adaptation was believing we had a lot to learn. We try to make Big-Mindness a business operating principle.
When my 21-year-old captive audience asked how to learn Big-Mindedness, my answer is to let experience be your teacher. Read outside your comfort zone. Volunteer in community organizations to see other people in their space. Work on a political campaign to listen to people and see the evolution of viewpoints. Travel. And pay attention to what's happening.
Even the seemingly most remote news events can be eye-opening. The two examples I gave my interviewee were the window into the expanding universe provided by the Hubble telescope and the experimentation of researches to verify the evolutionary connection between dinosaurs and chickens.
Seeing the vast expanse of what we call outer space should open our minds to life somewhere else beside earth. A similar discovery many years ago that showed the earth revolves around the sun opened new vistas for small-mindedness. It allowed science to shed light on the world without the shadow of dogma.
The seemingly pointless research project that indicates chickens can regress and have something more like a prehistoric snout instead of a beak offers a cellular-level notion of how life functions and evolves. We aren't destined to be what we are; we have adapted to become what we are.
The practical value of such knowledge is that the universe of answers is wider than our own solar system of information and that we can effect change if we understand what factors account for change. Both have broad utility in the field of marketing, which at its core is a quest to find what works.
Problems may seem insoluble. And, if you only consider the options in your small mind, they may be. But when your thoughts to cross over to the big mind, more options materialize. The path to success may not be clear, but it certainly isn't closed.