52 Intentional Affirmations:

#13. I intentionally value the opinions of others!

This week I will be intentionally more open to opposing views.

Each week I’m reporting here on my personal experience in implementing my 52 Intentional Affirmations. These are designed to help us be more intentionally mindful of the impact our intentions have on living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life. (Click Here to start work on your own 52 Intentional Affirmations).

I’m in Darwin at the moment for the MEA national conference where I am presenting a keynote on Intentionomics and Innovation.

As part of my preparation, I was re-visiting some of the research on innovation and creativity. One of the research findings that most resonates with me is the importance of intrinsic motivation to innovation and the link back to intention.

When we are intrinsically motivated (have a personal motivation and interest rather than relying on some external motivation like an enforced time-line or budget) to ‘think’ about something or to try and solve a problem, the research shows that we are likely to consider things from much broader perspectives, arrive at more innovative answers and solve problems more quickly.

This was very timely for me not only because of my upcoming presentation, but also because last week the intentional affirmation that I was working on was “I intentionally value the opinion of others.” If we want to be innovative, we need to bring others into our field of reference. It’s impossible to think beyond what we know, and if what we know is limiting us from finding a ‘new way’, being prepared to listen to others’ opinions can help us grow our understanding and open new paths to innovation and creativity.

I have a confession to make here. I am a fairly opinionated person. I don’t see this as a negative, I see it as a personal strength, but have learned over the years to use this strength selectively and wisely.

I don’t have an opinion on everything… only on those things that I believe I have sufficient information to draw reasonable opinions on. I’ve come to use a phrase that has really helped me when people ask for my opinion on something that I don’t believe I have sufficient information on. It is simply this “I don’t really know enough about this to have a worthwhile opinion”.

Having this approach for myself however does cause me to have to work hard when others are giving opinions on things that I’m not convinced they have sufficient information, to be able to give an opinion in the first place.

This can be problematic if I’m not focused on my intention in the relationships and conversations that I have. When I’m focused on my intention to genuinely want to help others feel good about themselves, I am able to keep my own ego in check, and allow others to share their opinions with me, even if I don’t think they have sufficient information on a given topic.

When, as affirmation #13 in our 50 Intentional Affirmations suggests, that I be intentionally more open to opposing views, doesn’t mean I need to accept them, however, by being intentionally open allows me again to keep my own ego and opinons in check.

My other confession here is that this is a real struggle for me, but that’s the power of these intentional affirmations. They provide a mindful pattern interrupt that reminds me to shut up and listen – really listen, and the more I practice this skill of intentionally listening (because it is a skill, but one that is easier to practice with clear intention), every now and then, an opposing viewpoint that is well supported by information I might not have considered, allows me to broaden my frame of reference… and new pathways for discovery, understanding, innovation and creativity are made.

Are you being intentionally open to opposing views? Can you value the opinions of others, even when you don’t believe their opinion is well-founded?

This is not to say that in the right place, at the right time, with the right person and with the right intention, you shouldn’t challenge opinions. I believe we can challenge an opinion while respecting the other person has every right to have that opinion. The phrase I use in these situations is “That’s interesting, what brings you to that opinion?” This allows you to learn more about their frame of reference, which may or may not result in you changing your own opinion, but at least you understand a bit more about why others have formed their opinions.

It’s a fine line this being open to others opinions – but I’m convinced, and the research supports that being intentionally open to new and sometimes opposing views will do you more good than harm.