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Published:October 11th, 2006 06:58 EST
Don't Confuse me with Facts

Don't Confuse me with Facts

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

It was more than we ever imagined. To see our first grandchild for the first time was truly an unforgettable experience.

We spent several days oohing and aahing over him while visiting in the home of Jon and our daughter-in-law, Priscilla, at Tinker AFB (OK) As we were about to head back to Texas, I told them I had finally come to a conclusion. On the basis of absolutely no bias or prejudice, I am sure Jackson Lee is the finest boy there has ever been. " They agreed. But it gets better. About a month after our grandson was born, our daughter Amanda and her husband Russell had Amelia Jane. So, in our family we now have the finest boy AND the finest girl in the whole world.

I can just hear the protests of other grandparents. Get out of here! You just haven`t seen MY grandkids. " Well, that may be true. However, let me remind you that YOU are biased.

All kidding aside, isn`t the preceding the way we usually think " about most things. Our emotions and attachments often create prejudices and biases, which only others can see. We, then, go merrily along taking pride in our open-mindedness. When it comes to matters affecting life and livelihood how truly open-minded are we?

How receptive are we to new ideas? William James said, A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. " Does that describe you or me? Just because we never considered something or never even heard of such, doesn`t make it wrong, impossible or a bad idea.

Let`s face it. No one wishes to be so open-minded their brains fall out. On the other hand, it`s no great honor to have a concrete mind. That`s the kind that`s all mixed up and permanently set. Al Smith, former governor of New York, often replied to critics by saying, Let`s examine the facts. " With respect to new ideas, you would expect nothing less from any fair, open- minded individual.

In close connection with the preceding, the unbiased are also open to change. Peter Shane, dean of the University of Pittsburgh Law School, said, If you advocate change, you will have to understand that there is no change so small that it threatens no one. " Because we feel threatened, when it comes to change we often close our minds. When pushed hard enough we feel angry and resentful. Consider, however, that there are some changes that are better for everyone. Taken from the follower`s perspective, however, leaders need to carefully consider the dynamics of change and tread lightly.

As we should be open to new ideas and to change, we should also be unbiased with respect to areas in our lives and careers that require self-improvement. It`s so easy to take an emotional approach here: I`m doing the best I can. That`s just the way I am. You just don`t understand. "

Objectively considered, how are your relationships? How are your evaluations? How mature are your attitudes? Do you find everyone in the world out of step but you?

If we want to think our children or grandchildren are the finest, that`s okay. Everyone else thinks that way about their kids. It`s natural, and generally a harmless bias. But, if prejudice keeps us from being better people, we hurt ourselves. Worse yet, we might be hurting others. John Maxwell said, Hurting people hurt people and are easily hurt by them. " Personal objectivity promotes healing.

BARBER-OSOPHY: To be all we are capable of being, we must open our minds.

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