On Being Closed-Minded

By | April 10, 2018

[April 10, 2018]  If there is one stereotype of military folks, it is that they are closed-minded; in other words, slow to adopt new ideas, tactics, and equipment.  One need only look to World War I as a not-so-subtle reminder that this is probably true.  On the other hand, I’ve found that most military professionals today are very open-minded.

If you ask the average person why so many people are closed-minded, you will probably not get a straight answer.  The reason for this is fairly simple.  People are closed-minded because it requires thinking and thinking is not always easy.  It is much easier to have an opinion – and act upon it – without weighing various options and alternatives every time we experience something new.

“The more open-minded you are, the more you see the world as it actually is.  The more closed-minded, the more you see the world as you want it to be.” – Adeo Ressi, American entrepreneur

Today, however, it is not the soldier who we think of as the stereotypical closed-minded person but the college student who is upset at anything that does not conform to their personal opinion.  It would seem that college students see speech they disagree with as somehow “violence” against their person and thus any draconian measure to stop it is “morally the right thing to do.”

We also are frequently reminded of the many politicians who are notorious for closed-mindedness.  If you’ve ever tried to change the mind of a politician, then you understand.   I occasionally lobby for funding pre-school children’s programs (I do this in an unpaid status) because I think it’s important and a rather obvious need is clear.  To get politicians to even agree there is a problem with poor nutrition is difficult.

But more importantly, it is incumbent upon us as leaders to do everything we can not to allow ourselves to slip into the closed-minded positions that require so little thought.  To be more open-minded we must learn that making mistakes is okay (if we learn something), be honest to admit we don’t know everything, and understand our true selves.

It is scary and requires effort to battle stereotypes from being closed-minded but great leaders are those that thrive on hard challenges.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “On Being Closed-Minded

  1. Bill Sanders, Jr.

    Like so many folks here I’ve had my share of bad bosses who were closed minded. Most of these were in the private business world, so such intellectual stuntedness is not limited to politicians or military service members. The problem for me was that those same bosses who made my life miserable were the same ones promoted by senior management. Couldn’t senior leaders there see what was happening? Or did they not care? Either way, we pions suffered the indignities of having idiots lead us.

  2. Tomas C. Looney

    Long time reader. Thank you Mr. Satterfield for your interests in sharing this.

  3. José Luis Rodriguez

    Just like my uncle who hired me to work at his gas station a few years ago. Wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say. He was the “boss” and that was it.

  4. Ronny Fisher

    Interesting comments today and one of my favorite topics to discuss with kids. Open their minds now while they have the flexibility adults rarely have.

  5. Joe Omerrod

    I’m a little late getting in my two-cents worth but I will argue that closed-mindedness is an outcome of living in a world where everyone thinks alike and no dissent is allowed.

  6. Joey Holmes

    This sounds like my english teacher in school. Cheers!

  7. Kenny Foster

    My favorite quote, “The only place opportunity cannot be found is in a closed-minded person.” This is a quote from Bo Bennett who is a very smart young man.

    1. Jerry Jones

      Yes. These help make my day a little better first thing in the morning.

  8. Drew Dill

    I know this article by BG Satterfield is not about liberalism but I will only note that liberalism is a mental disease (closed-mindedness).

    1. Jonathan B.

      Drew, you’re a hoot but also very insightful.

    2. Tracey Brockman

      All thumbs up for Drew today. Couldn’t have said it better.

  9. Darryl Sitterly

    I too have had the unfortunate experience of having a closed minded boss who made my life miserable. She was intolerant to any deviation from the standards as written. A bureaucrat par excellence. Admittedly she was hired, in part, because she was a woman and my company needed to show “diversity.” The problem was that she lacked some needed experience and that played into her poor performance. People didn’t like her because she got the job based on gender and not on competence, so they didn’t help her out when she really needed it. So, the unintended consequence of being closed minded is people will avoid assisting you.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Believe me! I know what you mean. Anytime a person is promoted without the necessary credentials and experience, problems with reign. Usually however it is because they are so closed minded.

  10. Army Captain

    People are closed-minded across all spectrums of thinking. The upside to the miltiary is that those who are unwilling to openness and creative thinking are weeded out along the way fairly quickly.

  11. Mr. T.J. Asper

    I agree and tend to think that being closed minded is not restricted to any particular profession but is more cultural based. Some groups, like politicians, certainly are more closed-minded but some of the best thinkers I’ve ever known were also politicians. On the other hand, if you travel to big cities, there are sub-communities (like folks in the arts) who are extremely closed-minded. They are in their own little echo chamber of ideas.

    1. Mark Evans

      I tend to agree that the more left-leaning politically you are the more closed-minded you are. Take college students and their professors as the most classic case.

    2. Janna Faulkner

      I agree with Mr. TJ. The comment that people who live in big cities tend to be more closed minded is also my experience too. They are also elitist in other areas of their lives too by believing that people who live outside cities are “hicks” or as Hillary Clinton put it, “deplorables.”

    3. Danny Burkholder

      I never met a person who considered themselves an “artist” that was not closed minded, morally superior, and looked down upon everyone else.

  12. Andrew Dooley

    Wow, have I know a lot of closed-minded leaders? And most were in the military too.

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