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From The


Lead With an Open-Mind and Heart

As we start a new school year, there is no doubt that this semester will look very different from any previous semester. For many of us, these changes may bring feelings of disappointment or frustration. There are steps that you can take to help you start the school year strong as discussed in Starting the School Year Strong. Though changing your attitude, especially when our expectations look very different from what we had hoped, can be difficult. My advice for combatting this negativity this year is to approach every situation with an open-mind and an open-heart.

Having an open-mind is a common piece of advice that reminds us to put aside preconceived judgments and unwarranted opinions, but having an open-heart takes this a step farther. The idea of an open-heart comes from one of my favorite authors, Parker Palmer. He teaches us that heartbreak can occur in one of two ways – it can break your heart apart, or it can break your heart open (Palmer, 2011). A heart that’s been broken apart is defeated and pained, but a heart that’s been broken-open is able to hold tension and discomfort and even suffering in a way that can withstand the negativity and allow it to transform and grow into something new. A broken-open heart can take suffering and turn it into compassion. It can take disappointment and frustration and turn it into silver linings and new opportunities.

When you approach a new situation, approach it with an open-mind that is free of judgment. You may just find that it’s not as bad as you feared it would be. If, however, you approach a situation with an open-mind and you still find yourself feeling frustrated or disappointed, it’s ok to let your heart break – as long as it’s breaking open. Frustration and disappointment are real feelings, and it’s ok to experience them; just don’t let them consume you. Let your open-heart capture your frustration and disappointment and creatively hold the discomfort that they’re causing. Use the tension to push you to see things and think about things in a different way. Let your open-heart expand your perspective to see beyond the challenge that is directly in front of you and see the whole picture with all of the good and bad and in-between.

An open-mind tells you not to label a situation as negative before you experience it. An open-heart tells you not to let a negative experience stop you from seeing some positive in the big picture. So, as you go into this new semester, don’t be scared of the frustration and disappointment that you may or may not encounter. Approach everything with an open-mind and an open-heart.

*Leadership Lesson*

Great leaders are able to reframe situations and experiences. Reframing is all about taking a negative experience, defining what’s making it negative, and finding a way to look at it differently to see some positive in it. Try reframing your negative experiences by going through these steps:

  1. Write down the negative experience.
  2. Identify what specific negative emotions are evoked by the experience.
  3. List some reasons that you’re feeling those negative emotions.
  4. List some positive factors that could come out of the experience.
  5. Write an intention for framing the experience in a new way.


  1. The trip I had planned got canceled because of COVID.
  2. I’m feeling disappointed.
  3. I’m disappointed because I was excited to experience a new city for the first time, I was going to do a lot of fun things on the trip that I now can’t, and I had been looking forward to this trip for a long time.
  4. Not going on the trip will save me some money. It will give me more time to dedicate to other tasks I want to get done. I can still look forward to one day going on this trip, and I’ll have more time to plan out what I want to do when I go. I am prioritizing the health and safety of myself and those around me, which are things that I value.
  5. I am going to let this canceled trip inspire me to save money so that I can do even more fun things when I eventually do get to reschedule the trip.

Source: Palmer, P. J. (2011). Healing the heart of democracy: The courage to create a politics worthy of the human spirit. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

*Meet the Author*

Morgan has been with Leadership Inspirations for three years. He has a B.A. in Integrated Educational Studies from Chapman University and is currently pursuing a M.A. in Leadership Development while working in Higher Education Student Affairs.

Favorite quote: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end” – John Lennon

Fun facts: 1) I once trained my pet goldfish to play basketball 2) When I was little I wanted to be a Disneyland parking attendant 3) I’m a big Justin Timberlake fan