One of the many things I’ve learned in the last two weeks as a result of speaking with a wide variety of thought leaders is that one way to look at content is to determine if it’s primary application is to develop skills or to challenge and change mindsets. I believe there are three phases that need to occur for learning to “stick” :
1) Mindset (beliefs, values, perspectives, disposition)
2) Skill Development
3) Tools (that support development)
I also believe that far to often people are somewhat skeptical (and even fearful) of starting with challenging someone’s mindset and focus on developing a specific skill with a practical tool. It seems logical, if I’m a sales manager and I believe that my team could do a better job when it comes to negotiating I might as well train them on how to be a better negotiator. However if the training only consists of attempting to develop that skill by teaching how to use specific tools in specific situations (i.e.- never make an offer first, clearly articulate the value of your solution, etc.) but doesn’t challenge people to evaluate their mindsets than it will not be as effective as it could be. I’m not saying that developing skills is bad, but I am saying that it is more effective to start with mindsets.
Everyone comes to the table with preexisting beliefs, perspectives and values. Some of them we are clearly aware of and some of them we are not even aware that we posses and therefore cannot determine if they are serving our needs or hindering us. The root of the mindsets are not the issue, nor are they all that important. What is important is to determine if your content can integrate a challenge to an individuals mindset. You do not need to tell anyone that their mindset is wrong or flawed, what you need to do is present them with an alternative that will connect with them on an emotional level but stand up to reason. It needs to show them there’s a different way to view the world, that the risk of trying it is minimal and that the rewards (measured in any number of ways) are greater than the risk.
Now, not every subject lends itself to the integration of a mindset aspect, but many more do than don’t. What I’ve gained additional clarity on is that when an author or thought leader takes the risk to challenge a mindset the results are followers of that author that are much more passionate and loyal to that author. Passion and loyalty are earned and they are earned because the sustainable behavior change that can come from challenging a mindset is a powerful experience.