Subir Chowdhury is one of the world’s leading management thinkers and consultants, and the author of The Difference. He joins Signature to discuss the benefits that each of us developing a caring mindset can have on our nation.
We are currently living in one of the most divisive eras in the history of our nation, as evidenced by the recent presidential election, and continued volatility. Debate, discourse and disagreement are all part of any healthy democracy, but for each of us to move forward in a productive and positive way, we need a different mindset. We each need to develop a caring mindset.
When I first arrived in the United States, I faced many challenges—a foreign culture, a new social life, a demanding job. It wasn’t easy. My mindset enabled me to overcome each and every obstacle, become a proud citizen of my new home, and successful beyond my wildest dreams. My experiences have also helped me understand why so many people continue to feel apprehensive.
Whether you’re worried about access to affordable healthcare, safety, and security, or employment in an increasingly global and automated world, having a caring mindset and refusing to settle for just “good enough” is essential. You need to be the catalyst for change—for the difference you want to see.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a CEO in a Fortune 100 company, a college student, or a stay-at-home mom or dad; making a difference by employing a caring mindset is everyone’s responsibility. We can no longer sit back and rely on the good intentions of others. We must commit to act. If we do that, I believe we can transform our workplaces, strengthen our family ties, reinvigorate America, and transform the world.
A caring mindset is made up of four STAR attributes: straightforwardness, thoughtfulness, accountability, and resolve. It’s easy to remember, and it doesn’t matter whether you embrace them in order or not—but you must embrace all of them. You can’t have a caring mindset by practicing only thoughtfulness and resolve—you need to have all four to shine:
- Straightforwardness: When you are straightforward, you respect and seek the truth, no matter how difficult it may be to hear. Think about what you lose when you or the people around you seek the easy way out because you (or they) are afraid to be straightforward. Mistakes happen, and people can get hurt.
- Thoughtfulness: When you are thoughtful, you understand the impact of your decisions on others—you move from “me” to “we”. Dig deep and be empathetic: strive to understand the other person’s point of view—you might not be as far apart as you think.
- Accountability: When you are accountable, you understand that the buck stops with you, and that you impact the outcome. Don’t wait for someone else to act, and stop making excuses. Think about how you can make a difference at work, at home, or in your community. Even a simple gesture can go a long way.
- Resolve: When you have resolve, you commit to making change happen regardless of how difficult the challenge. Resolve means having the passion, determination, and perseverance to find a solution to a problem or improve a situation, even if that requires humility and a willingness to change. The last time you were faced with a dilemma, did you do everything possible to solve it? Is there anything else you might have done? Is there anything more you can still do?
Sure, it would be easy to sit back and rationalize that it’s not your responsibility to fix the problem—it’s the CEO, the school chancellor, an elected representative, a neighbor. But doing so will not change a thing—in fact, it will probably make things worse. Having a caring mindset means that we all need to engage in a lively dialogue so we can raise and resolve issues honestly. Collaboration and teamwork replaces finger-pointing and grandstanding. Focusing on profits, processes, and systems alone cannot make a difference. No one ever wins the blame game.
Practicing a caring mindset is first and foremost about selflessness, about making a difference for others. Ask yourself at the end of each day, “Did I do something today selflessly for another human being, or to better the world I live in?” Commit to encouraging others to also make a difference. When you practice the four aspects of a caring mindset, you will inspire others to do so as well, and ultimately help to create a STAR culture throughout your organization, community, or even your own family. Practice them until your own caring mindset has no “off” switch. When you do, you will inspire everyone around you to do the same. You will be the difference!