Learning

Can We Learn to Have a Global Mindset?

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© 2019 Peitho Publishing / Michael Froehls
Written by Michael Froehls

Before we can ask ourselves this question, we need to understand what a global mindset is. There are many definitions out there.

Two Definitions

Let’s first look at one from my favorite global newspaper, the Financial Times. It writes in its FT lexicon:

“(A) global mindset…combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see common patterns across countries and markets.”

That’s not bad, but it leaves me wanting something more active and precise than just seeing patterns.

Another definition can be found by Dr. Gary Ranker, book author and global CEO coach. To him, a global mindset “…indicate(s) an orientation of openness towards other cultures, other people, and other ways of doing things.” He goes on to list 7 criteria that one might consider attributes of a global mindset. Among these are “openness to learning” and “interest and curiosity.

I think Dr. Ranker nailed it. I would trust him as a coach instantly.

Key Conditions for a Global Mindset

I don’t believe a global mindset is something you are born with. Nor can you learn it as a topic in school. You can only acquire it over time by being open to new ideas, foreign cultures, and how others think and perform. The three key attitudes necessary, in my experience, are indeed openness, interest, and curiosity.

Openness

Openness means that you realize you don’t know it all. Not only don’t you know it all, but others may be more knowledgeable than you. It is likely that colleagues, friends, and strangers have more education in certain matters than you, believe in different things, and have a reference frame and life experience vastly other than yours. In short, you can learn from other folks. This learning can happen everywhere and anywhere.  

Interest

Interest can manifest itself in many forms. In our context, it could mean that you follow the international news. Moreover, that you take an interest in your foreign neighbors and immigrant co-workers and their stories and backgrounds. You try to understand the history of somebody, a company, or even a country. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Your desire to learn is genuine. When you travel, you do so with open eyes. Instead of just being focused on the beach or the next Starbucks coffee shop, you take a look at advertisements and foreign brands, observe how shopping centers and train stations operate, how people act, and the way small businesses conduct their affairs. 

Curiosity – the Core Trait

Curiosity is, I believe, even more important than pure interest. It goes one step farther. You actively ask questions; your mind never stops wanting to know everything and understand it all. In a nutshell, curiosity is more active than showing interest. Watch how kids explore their new worlds. They ask questions that drive their parents crazy. They explore writing and art with pens and pencils. You might see them throw stuff against the wall, run around, trip and fall, then get up and explore more. It’s continuous learning.

When I meet people, I can usually detect very quickly whether they are curious or not. A curious person asks questions. She talks about travel experiences as something positive, even if not all things went as planned.  Moreover, she is eager to listen and learn from the wisdom and experience of her interlocutors. A curious mind reads books and never stops learning.

In my humble opinion, a person that is not curious is inherently boring, like the couple eating at a restaurant without talking to each other. Curiosity means personal growth. Call it lifelong learning or whatever you like. A curious mind studies until the last day of its life.

Can You Acquire a Global Mindset?

I certainly believe so, though the path might be different for each person.

Let’s assume that you possess a curious mind, consider yourself open-minded, and show interest in things outside your local or national boundaries. Next you need to practice step number two – recognizing international options that might be available for you, your family, or your business. In other words, you need to internalize that there are ways for you to realize some of your dreams. One example of realizing your dream is completing your master’s degree program outside of your home country. Equally, the solution to issues you face may come from across the border. Perhaps you have been saving for some dentistry work you could never afford in Germany. Luckily, your curiosity has unearthed that you can have it done in Hungary at half the cost. In both cases, international options are ready for your taking. 

How do you make this second step? I am not sure there is only one path or timeline. Maybe it is a bit like when toddlers start walking: Some do it earlier than others. Maybe it’s like playing the piano or learning a foreign language: Practice makes perfect. Above all, following Go Global Be Happy will expedite your path to a truly global mindset in no time! Enjoy being part of our community.

Takeaway

I think that you can acquire a global mindset. But what about you? Do you think you possess one? Feel free to share with us what a global mindset signifies for you.

© 2019 Michael Froehls – All Rights Reserved

Photo Credit: ©  Michael Froehls


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