A key attitude that can help you “master your craft” is openness. Openness refers to having the motivation to seek new experiences and engage in self-reflection. Openness to experience, which is one of the factors found in the Big Five personality traits (also known as the Five Factor Model), is linked to creativity and intelligence. Although considered a personality trait in this model, you can also see it as a skill that can be developed through consistent practice.
It’s safe to say that a considerable number of people in our society are closed-minded. They will display an unwavering set of beliefs and values, and only seek familiar and traditional experiences. Closed-minded people will generally engage in this type of behaviour because it will make them feel comfortable (their beliefs and values will not be threatened).
The problem with adopting this mindset is that you will stay static in an ever-changing world. You will have a very hard time adapting to your environment, which will eventually make you obsolete.
Therefore, if you want to succeed in life and continuously grow on both a personal and professional level, you need to become more open-minded. By exposing yourself to a variety of new experiences, you will always be able to gain a fresh perspective on life. Nevertheless, it’s extremely important to combine this new and positive attitude with self-reflection. The whole idea behind this dynamic learning process is to absorb and incorporate what is useful into your life, and discard what is useless.
For instance, if you are a businessman and usually read books on marketing, but one day you decide to read a book on philosophy, then you might gain a deeper understanding of human behaviour, which will positively impact how you will approach potential clients.
Listen to this short clip from Joe Betterman, a U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling coach, who talks about how you can keep learning if you stay open-minded.
At least once a week, try something that you have never done before or only tried in the distant past. This new experience can come from a variety of sources. For example, read a different section in the newspaper, listen to another type of music, talk to a new person in your class, or eat some food that you think you don’t like because it did not taste good when you were younger. When faced with the new experience, do not prejudge it and use all your senses so you can enjoy the present moment.
Here is a study that shows the existing relationship between openness to experience and mental health. In 2008, Steel and colleagues examined the correlation between individual measures of personality and different categories of subjective well-being. The authors found that openness to experience was associated with happiness, positive emotions, and quality of life.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.
Steel, P., Schmidt, J., & Shultz, J. (2008). Refining the relationship between personality and subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 138-61.