lifestyle

Only 1% Of People Have A Self-Transforming Mind: Learn How To Think In Grayscale

Alex Carabi

WealthFit Contributor

We like answers. They provide us with a sense of certainty and control. In the pursuit of clear answers, we filter and compartmentalize, separating right from wrong. We see the world in black and white. But that’s not the only way to see the world.

There is another mindset that’s more open, flexible, and accommodating. It’s a perspective that’s suited to dealing with uncertainty, complexity and change.

And it’s a way of thinking that never has the right answer, but can always find a solution.

This perspective is called grayscale thinking.

Stages of Adult Development

Robert Kegan, psychologist and professor at Harvard, is the founder of adult development theory. The theory describes how people mature and grow into adulthood. There are five stages:

For a self-transforming mind, there is no black and white.

There are no firm answers.

Everything is just a different shade of gray.

“People with this form of mind are less likely to see the world in terms of dichotomies or polarities,” Jennifer Garvey Berger, long-time collaborator of Robert Kegan, explains.

“They are more likely to believe that what we often think of as black and white are just various shades of gray whose differences are made more visible by the lighter or darker colors around them."

Learn To Appreciate The Subtle Details

Not striving to find the right answer can sound like heresy in a rational, left-brain dominated world.

Finding the right solutions is something so integrated into the modern mind that it can seem pointless—impossible even—to consider other ways of operating.

But this obsession of having the right answer is only one way of viewing the world.

Grayscale thinking is a perspective of nuances.

It’s about finding the exceptions.

It’s dancing in the spaces between, of playing with the boundaries themselves.

Rather than focusing on finding the right answer, it’s about uncovering newer and better questions.

If we follow questions, one answer will never be enough. More nuance and subtlety always lies in store. And with that, even better answers, and even greater questions, emerge.

Scott Cook, founder of Intuit, describes in the book Trillion Dollar Coach the mindset of legendary CEO and leadership coach Bill Campbell.

Cook tells the story of how, when interviewing Campbell for a role at Intuit, the power of Campbell’s grayscale thinking became apparent.

“The first time we met, we talked about business and strategy," Cook says. "But when we talked again, we got off of strategy and talked instead about leadership and people. The other people I had interviewed had a cookie-cutter approach to developing people. You can have any color you want as long as it's black. But Bill, he was a technicolor rainbow.”

He continued: “He appreciated that each person had a different story and background. He was so nuanced and different in how he approached growth challenges and leadership challenges … Bill was great at that."

How to Spot the Difference

There are a few signs that you’re entering into black-and-white territory.

Anytime you make a statement of “this is how things work”, you are making a black-and-white statement.

When you notice yourself using words like “must,” “should,” “always”, and “never”, you are entering the realm of black-and-white.

Grayscale thinking has a different vocabulary. It’s peppered with “maybes” and “sometimes”.

Phrases like “on the one hand . . . on the other hand“ show up time and again.

It’s a constant process of exploration, of twisting and turning, and remaining curious.

A black-and-white thinker will ask, “Is this true?”. A gray-scale thinker asks, “How could this be true?”

You don't need to always avoid absolutes. The key is to be aware that you’re entering into dangerous territory if you do.

Proceed far enough, and you’re turning off access to other realities.

Paul Saffo, technology forecaster and professor at Stanford University, is famous for coining the term “strong beliefs, loosely held.” This is compatible with grayscale thinking.

Strong opinions are essential—as long as they’re held with enough objectivity that you can update them when required.

If you’re a grayscale thinker, your identity and sense of self-worth are not tied up with your opinions. Instead, you’re always seeking a greater and deeper truth.

This continuous exercise demands not only letting go of your identity, but also a willingness to update your current beliefs and worldview.

Grayscale thinkers don’t just look through their worldview.

They look at it.

Instead of taking for granted the world they see through their glasses, they observe and scrutinize the glasses themselves.

Finding Color and Truth in the Paradoxes

It’s when we’re posed with the most confusing, contradictory, irreconcilable challenges that truths emerge.

It is in grappling with that we understand.

It is in the struggle to grasp that we are made.

“When things are most contradictory, absurd, difficult and frustrating,” writes E. F. Schumacher, “then—just then—life really makes sense.”

There is no right. There is no wrong. There is only more or less.

It’s all a following of questions, of challenges. And in your pursuit of these questions, you probably won’t receive an answer. You’re more likely to receive yet another question.

And another. And another.

This may seem frustrating. But this is living.

Rigidity, static, fixed is death. Complexity, challenge, confusion is aliveness.

It’s in the tension where dynamism and vibrance lives. It’s in the electric energy where the thrill of adventure occurs. It’s in the contradictions, in the variations, where the fullness of life is experienced.

Black and white is decay.

Grayscale is aliveness.

Grayscale is a life in color.

Share

Written By

Alex Carabi

Alex Carabi is a certified coach and the founder of Kodawari Coaching. He coaches entrepreneurs, startup founders and leaders from around the world.

Read more about Alex

RELATED TRAINING

 in 

LIFESTYLE

article
5 Ways to Overcome Adversity

Learn the 5 most recommended ways to overcome the adversity you’ve suffered in the past … or even suffer from now.

5 Ways to Overcome Adversity

Alex Carabi

Read Now
article
How To Achieve More By Doing Less

Learn how to be more productive — without working harder. Discover how high achievers get more done by focusing on what’s really important . . . and ignoring everything else.

How To Achieve More By Doing Less

Alex Carabi

Read Now
article
Into The Valley Of Fire: Why Struggle Is the Only Way To Progress In Life

Learn how to progress in life by accepting struggle & hardship. Take on bigger challenges—give it your all—and come out stronger than ever.

Into The Valley Of Fire: Why Struggle Is the Only Way To Progress In Life

Alex Carabi

Read Now
article
5 Steps to Turbocharge Your Productivity

Improve your personal and professional focus with these 5 productivity tips. Plus, learn how to identify your biggest distractions and eliminate them for better work habits.

5 Steps to Turbocharge Your Productivity

Cash Lambert

Read Now
live talk
Ben Saltzman: How You’re Wired, ‘The Enneagram’ & Deeper Connections

We can actually perform better in this world by understanding others. But how do you do that? Dustin Mathews turns to Ben Saltzman the answer to this. This episode allows us to reevaluate ourselves, how we can leverage that, and also how to have deeper connections through understanding a mystical force known as the Enneagram.

Ben Saltzman: How You’re Wired, ‘The Enneagram’ & Deeper Connections

live talk
Noah St. John: Head Trash, Afformations & Power Habits

From almost taking his own life to taking control of his mind, Noah St.John sits with Dustin and shares the power habits of unconsciously successful people, the four stages of competency, the best way to get rid of your head trash, and the creation of AFFORMATIONS.

Noah St. John: Head Trash, Afformations & Power Habits

live talk
Business Alchemy, Collaborative Consumption & Creative Structure

In this episode, Dustin sits with Creativity Coach, Lauren Wallett, on her entrepreneurial journey to coaching, the life changing plane ride that altered the course of her life, and the power of business alchemy and turning your ideas into gold.

Business Alchemy, Collaborative Consumption & Creative Structure

Focused & Fierce

Focused & Fierce

How To Sharpen Your Attention, Eliminate Distraction, & Become Unstoppable

Lyman Montgomery

Watch Now
live talk
Tough Conversations, Speaking Your Truth & Adult Diapers

Learn how to tackle the tough conversations in your business with world-renowned performance and retention coach, David Wood. In this episode, Dustin and David get deep as they tackle a real-life tough conversation Dustin is preparing to have, together.

Tough Conversations, Speaking Your Truth & Adult Diapers

T.U.R.B.O. Productive

T.U.R.B.O. Productive

How To Stop Wasting Time, Become Laser-Focused, & Get More Done in a Day

Lyman Montgomery

Watch Now
article
How To Be Creative

Learn how to prime the pump of creativity by using this 5 step process, inspired by creativity gurus Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and Jack Kerouac.

How To Be Creative

Alyssa Mavor

Read Now
More Cashflow, Less Stress

More Cashflow, Less Stress

How To Boost Your Monthly Income By "Going With the Flow" of Wealth

Dale Gibbons

Watch Now
article
What is Visionary Leadership?

Learn how to use visionary leadership to keep your team engaged, motivated, and focused on your primary objective.

What is Visionary Leadership?

Cash Lambert

Read Now
The 7 Mind Types

The 7 Mind Types

How To Discover Your Mental Superpower and Harness It For Success in Life and Business

Ridgely Goldsborough

Watch Now
live talk
How To Have Better Conversations, Ambiverts & Being Curious

Celeste Headlee, an award-winning journalist and professional speaker, discusses how anyone can be an amazing conversationalist regardless of whether they're introverted or extraverted.

How To Have Better Conversations, Ambiverts & Being Curious

live talk
Get Smarter Faster, Igniting Your Genius & The Meaning of Life

The world's fastest reader, Howard Berg, explains how anyone can access their genius.

Get Smarter Faster, Igniting Your Genius & The Meaning of Life

live talk
Management Mess to Leadership Success

Scott Miller shares the difference between efficiency and effectiveness in this episode on strong, competent leadership.

Management Mess to Leadership Success

Be a Goal-Getter

Be a Goal-Getter

How To "Un-Stuck" Yourself and Start Achieving Every Financial, Physical, & Life Goal You Set

JP Servideo

Watch Now
Creating Wealthy Habits

Creating Wealthy Habits

How To Replace “Broke” Habits With “Multi-Millionaire” Habits

JP Servideo

Watch Now
The 4-Day Weekend Lifestyle

The 4-Day Weekend Lifestyle

How to Re-Design Your Life, Re-Discover Your Passion, and Make Every Weekend A 4-Day Weekend

Croix Sather

Watch Now
live talk
How To Get Out of Your Own Way

You can be successful and still be unhappy. Erin Pheil talks what it takes to break down your boundaries and reach fulfillment.

How To Get Out of Your Own Way

article
Let Clowns Do the Juggling: How Multitasking is Killing Your Productivity

How many things are you doing right now? Put down your phone, close your tabs, and learn how focusing in can save the quality of your work.

Let Clowns Do the Juggling: How Multitasking is Killing Your Productivity

Justin McCormick

Read Now
article
Check Yourself: Keep a Work Checklist & Up Your Productivity

Check it out! You can improve your productivity by keeping a work checklist. Learn how to write one and take your career to the next level.

Check Yourself: Keep a Work Checklist & Up Your Productivity

Jill Huettich

Read Now
Developing a Warrior Mindset

Developing a Warrior Mindset

How to Shatter Your Fear, Upgrade Your Brain, & Fight Your Way to Financial Freedom

David Fabricius

Watch Now