Photo by Pearl

Photo by Pearl

When you attempt to solve a problem, are you thinking with a clear, open mind, available to any solution that presents itself? Or are you thinking from your own lens of experience, education, and beliefs? Is it even possible to think outside of yourself?

Why is an open mindset so important? Like a marketing company selectively using data from one study versus another to push their product, we are all culprit to lean towards information and people that support our views and avoid those that don’t. This is the exact bias we must be wary of.

Social entrepreneurs need to be open to the best solution, not just their solution. No solution is completely your own, but you’re in the unique position of being an entrepreneur to execute that solution. Being open to even better solutions than the ones you come up with shouldn’t be a dangerous or vulnerable place. The entrepreneur makes things happen, not just their ideas.

We can’t avoid approaching a situation from our conditioning; our accumulated understanding from the past helping us reflect on the present. A businesswoman with an MBA and 11 years of experience in insurance has certain ideas she carries with her. A civil engineer from the Midwest with three kids brings with him a specific way of thinking.

Our jobs even hire us for our past conditioning, reinforcing the idea that what we have done is more important than how or why we’re doing it. Upton Sinclair warned of this mental fog when he said, “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Sinclair makes a powerful observation, and we have to be especially alert if we’re entrepreneurs who sincerely believe in the idea we’re developing.

How are we then to approach a difficult, complex, wicked problem from what we know to be an inherently biased perspective? How can we avoid being a hammer looking for a nail when our education and experience have prepared us so well to be a great hammer?

Approach it with the scientific method. Prove yourself wrong. Test your hypothetical solution from all angles. Be completely attentive to what is present before you, attuned to both what you notice immediately and alert to any details available to you, not just the ones you’re trained to see.

You are already the accumulation of your past acting in the present moment and that is unavoidable. It’s when your past conditioning is used as a crutch to support assumptions that make you right that another problem is brought into the equation. You are not right, rather there is a right solution. Are you looking for it, or looking to be the one who finds it?

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Editorial Collaborator, Akshay Kapur, joins Conscious to provide tips and advice that speak to entrepreneurs everywhere who face struggles dealing with time, money, balance, health, relationships, and more. Read his interview here. Discover his series here.