Inward and Outward Mindsets

By Kim Jessie


As the New Year begins, we set goals and work toward undertaking great accomplishments in 2017.  Many of our goals include new behaviors and actions we will attempt.  According to the Arbinger Institute, it takes more than a behavior change to create our desired results; it takes a mindset change.  Changing your mindset determines the course of your changed behavior.  Without changing your mindset, you are destined to return to your old behaviors.


There are two possible mindsets:  inward and outward.  A person with an inward mindset focuses solely on his/her own personal goals, needs, and desires.  They see other people as objects, as a means to an end.  People who do not contribute to their focus are cast aside as an interference or a burden.


A person with an outward mindset also has goals, needs, and desires.  The difference is the outward mindset person sees other people as human beings.  They understand that every person has personal goals, needs and desires.  They also recognize that working with other people to help them accomplish their goals can lead to collaborative relationships.  Intentionally focusing on these relationships can lead to innovation and accountability in reaching everyone’s goals.


The most effective leaders appreciate and embrace the outward mindset.  They can rally a team by recognizing their team members’ needs and desires and incorporating those into the big picture.  An example is a children’s ministry leader who has the following team members:  people who love to teach children, people who love to play with children, people who love to work in crafts, people who like to play games, and people who love to tell children about Jesus.  Each of these volunteers has things about which they are passionate.  An outward mindset children’s ministry leader celebrates the variety of passions and incorporates these into the entire ministry.

Through the outward mindset, a leader can integrate the followers’ desires into the big picture, which creates buy-in, collaboration, and healthy teamwork.  Through these, he/she can guide the followers toward the appropriate behaviors to attain the desired results.  It all begins with an outward mindset.


For more information, see The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves by the Arbinger Institute or follow the link http://acam-ceo.org/uploads/3/0/7/1/3071339/acam_2014_ferrell.pdf.

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