Book Review: The Outward Mindset

Image result for the outward mindsetI recently read The Outward Mindset by the Arbinger Institute.

The book begins by explaining that the key to long-lasting behavioral change is changing mindset.  Indeed, I myself have said many times that you cannot change behaviors without first changing the thinking behind them.

From there we are given some definition behind two competing mindsets, one, the inward mindset—a narrow-minded focus on self-centered goals and objectives – and two, the outward mindset – a  much wider view where we look to understand others in a more objective way.

Through a series of true stories and simple explanations, diagrams, and tools, The Outward Mindset gives individuals and organizations the recipe to make the change to this outward mindset that dramatically improves performance, spurs collaboration, and speeds innovation.

I found this book extremely relevant in these days of corporate scandals and growing narcissism. The Arbinger prescription involves bringing humility, empathy, and accountability into daily interactions with people both at work and at home. This might seem overly idealistic or even impossible but the authors provide simple tools and strategies, for example, consider one of the most useful tools known by the acronym SAM:

1. See the needs, objectives and challenges of others (the key to an outward mindset)
2. Adjust one’s work to become more helpful to others
3. Measure the impact of the behavior, and be accountable for that impact

The main assertion of the book is that by taking an outward mindset, one is more likely to consider the impact of actions and decisions on others, and thus treat others in a more humane way. This may seem pie in the sky and that there’s no way hardened business people for instance could ever make this leap, however, the book contains several compelling stories that make it clear that it is indeed very possible.  For example, there are a couple of stories from a Kansas City Police Department SWAT team that certainly illustrate how even the toughest among us can make these changes. If you want to get it from the source, check out this video of a TEDx talk given by Chip Huth, the police officer who led the change in Kansas City (

This book is slim, very readable, and, in addition to careful explanations and simple diagrams, contains many moving stories.  I give it a very high recommendation.

I leave you with some words of the authors that give you an idea of the power in the message of the book…

“What can I do to be more helpful at work? What can I do to be more helpful at home? What can I do to be more helpful to those I know and to those I don’t? What can I do?”

Needless to say, this will be an important addition to your library if you’re interested in a better planet, workplace or home life.

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