Where are you on the openness to learning scale?

When people give you challenging feedback, do you show polite interest outwardly while holding onto your position or viewpoint? Or do you see every interaction with another person as an opportunity to learn, grow, and discover something new?

As an entrepreneur, each day we are drinking from the firehose of uncertainty and challenges inevitably surface, especially with other humans. We are bombarded with new information from our customers, team members, and investors so it’s imperative that we cultivate a high openness to feedback and learning. One of my favorite tools to gauge my openness to learning was developed by Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks from the Hendricks Institute.

With Gay & Katie providing the inspiration, we have simplified their -10 to +10 scale to a -7 to + 7 scale, with a -7 being a low openness to learning, and +7 being a high openness to learning. The scale is below. When people give you feedback about a challenging issue, where do you hang out most often?


High Openness to Learning

+7 - Implementing (planning actions, requesting support for follow up)

+6 - Feeling and showing genuine enthusiasm about new possibilities

+5 - Taking full responsibility for the issue, the results that were created

+4 - Requesting information and examples about the issue

+3 - Listening generously (able to paraphrase the other person’s statements without interjecting your point of view)

+2 - Expressing appreciation for the messenger and message regardless of the delivery

+1 - Expressing genuine curiosity about the issue


Low Openness to Learning

-1 - Showing polite interest outwardly while inwardly clinging to your point of view while rehearsing a rebuttal

-2 - Explaining how the person has misperceived the situation

-3 - Interpreting what the person is saying as an attack

-4 - Justifying why you acted the way you did

-5 - Going silent, getting edgy, snappy or frustrated

-6 - Blaming someone or something else

-7 - Creating uproar or making an abrupt departure


What I have found is a direct correlation between the level of challenge and where I reside on the scale. When I experience really challenging feedback, I notice the tendency to hang out in the minus area. I have become crafty at -2 :)

Each day as I learn to operate from a higher level of self awareness, I can catch myself wanting to follow my reactive fear responses and quickly shift from minus to plus, knowing that the most challenging feedback provides the greatest opportunity for growth and discovery.

As the zen saying goes “when you have met your opposite celebrate, for you are liberated.”

How do you shift out of your limbic reactive brain? Try this on. Before reacting, take a breath and even adjust your body posture. By simply breathing and getting present you become aware of how you are reacting, and then can mindfully choose how your higher self wants to respond.

The result, you learn something new and demonstrate mindful leadership to your team. Then they follow your lead and before you know it, your team culture embodies a high openness to learning. A company that embodies a high openness to learning leads to better products, increased profitability, and most importantly, more fun.

So how about you? Where are you hanging out most often? Let us know in the comments section below.  

Justin Milano helps mindful entrepreneurs build exceptional companies. As a serial entrepreneur and certified leadership coach, Justin uses a unique blend of business and leadership coaching to help entrepreneurs create breakthroughs and fulfill their maximum potential.

To explore integrating Good Startups coaching into your startup, check out our signature program Breakthrough or peruse our one-on-one executive coaching by clicking here.  

*Openness to learning scale modified from the Hendricks Institute - www.hendricks.com