[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.