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Our mindsets affect how we see the world and respond to people or events around us. This book explains how to create lasting change by adopting an outward mindset that improves your personal and professional relationships, team collaboration and innovation. In this free version of The Outward Mindset summary, you’ll learn the difference between inward and outward mindsets, and how you can start to see beyond yourself to change lives and transform organizations.

What is The Outward Mindset About?

Many of us unknowingly operate from an inward, self-focused mindset, which generates tension and conflict.  An outward mindset is about looking beyond ourselves, to consider other people’s needs, wants, and challenges as fellow human beings.  When you switch to an outward mindset, you intuitively understand what your colleagues, friends, and family need. Your relationships flourish, your teams and communities thrive, and you become happier and more successful.

In this book, the Arbinger Institute draws on decades of research and application, to explain how we can create lasting change at a personal, family, team, and organizational level, by shifting from an inward mindset to an outward mindset. These ideas are presented through a series of short, real-world examples.

Why Mindsets Matter

Mindsets Drive Performance and Results

Our results are determined by our actions/behaviors, which are in turn shaped by our mindsets and perspectives.

The Outward Mindset summary - Mindsets-behaviors-results

Mindsets are more than self-beliefs. They affect how you see things/people, the options you think of, and how you choose among those options.

You cannot create lasting change without a shift in mindset. Technical skills or behavioral interventions may deliver short-term results, but you’ll eventually lapse into old ways of thinking and acting. For example, you can learn new techniques from a communication course, but you won’t be able to apply these effectively until you change how you see others. If you dislike and distrust someone, the other person can pick up the negative vibes regardless of what you say or do.

Example: the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD)

In the past, the KCPD used to take a hard stance with suspects. During drug busts, they would take down suspects aggressively, thrash their homes and even shoot their pets. This only led to increasing tension, worsening crime rates and community complaints.

Then, the team considered a new perspective: What was it like to be on the other side of the fence? They realized that the drug peddlers were also people trying to make ends meet. Damaging their homes and terrifying their families did nothing to control crime.

This simple mindset shift led to a major transformation. During drug busts, SWAT team members started to protect the civilians and their properties. They even prepared milk formula to calm terrified mothers and babies! Before long, complaints went down, and suspects even cooperated with the police to reduce drugs and guns on the streets.

Inward Mindset vs Outward Mindset

When we focus inward on our own needs and goals, we perceive others as objects, or just a means to our own ends. We may:
• Treat others like tools or vehicles to achieve our goals;
• Blame them for obstructing our goals; and/or
• Ignore them because they seem irrelevant to our goals.

When we focus outward, we see others as people like us. We see both our needs and theirs, and realize how we’re interconnected. This broadens our perspective and helps us to see new possibilities. When we see others as people, we also want to help them and make a positive impact on their lives.

Inward and outward mindsets are not about personality types (e.g. introversion vs extroversion). It’s all about perspective, i.e. how we see ourselves relative to others.

The 2 mindsets are not mutually exclusive; they fall on a continuum. All of us exhibit both mindsets at different points in time. And, we can intentionally shift toward an outward mindset to improve our personal and professional outcomes.

The Outward Mindset summary - inward vs outward mindset

In our full 12-page version of The Outward Mindset summary, we’ll elaborate more on the 2 perspectives, along with other examples involving business transformation, patient care, and a father-son relationship.

Shifting to an Outward Mindset

How can you move away from an inward mindset, toward an outward mindset? Basically, here are 3 key steps that any individual, team, or organization can use to shift to an outward mindset:

  1. See others’ needs, goals, and challenges;
  2. Adjust your efforts to become more helpful to others; and
  3. Measure your impact on others and hold yourself accountable for your impact.

In an organizational setting, these 3 steps should be applied to your stakeholders including: your (i) manager or business owner, (ii) employees or direct reports, (iii) peers or partners, and (iv) customers. Do check out our complete summary for:

• Details on each of the 3 steps above, and how to apply them (personally or as a team) using the Outward-Mindset Diagram;

• Principles and tips for shifting to an outward mindset as a team/organization; and

• More real-life examples and case studies.

We strongly recommend reading this book/summary along with 2 other titles by The Arbinger Institute: Leadership and Self-Deception and The Anatomy of Peace.

Getting More from “The Outward Mindset”

It takes time and effort to shift from an inward mindset to an outward mindset. The good news is, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, until it becomes your default way of thinking. Ready to start making the shift? Do check out our full book summary bundle that includes an infographic, 12-page text summary, and a 21-minute audio summary.

The Outward Mindset summary - Book summary bundle

This book is full of real-world stories and examples—from education to business, healthcare, and Navy SEALS—to help the readers understand the outward mindset and how to apply it. You can purchase the book here or visit for more details and resources.

About the Author of The Outward Mindset

The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves was written by The Arbinger Institute–a training, consulting and coaching orgnaization. Arbinger provides tools that move individuals, teams, and organizations from the inward mindset to the results focus of an outward mindset. This is built on the knowledge that, without a change in mindset, newly adopted behaviors won’t stick and results will suffer. Arbinger is the world leader in transforming mindset, and their programs and methodology are based on 45 years of research in the psychology of human behavior and motivation, and more than 35 years of experience working with organizations worldwide.

Note: An earlier version of this book was titled “The Outward Mindset: How to Change Lives and Transform Organizations”.

The Outward Mindset Quotes

“This book is about…how to experience a way of seeing, thinking, working, and leading that helps individuals, teams, and organizations significantly improve performance.”

“Mindset drives and shapes all that we do—how we engage with others and how we behave in every moment and situation.”

“People are at once independent and dependent, both alone and fundamentally together, at the same time influencing others and being influenced by them.”

“The most troubling areas of our lives will be those in which we resist what the humanity of others invites us to see.”

“No problem could be solved if individuals were not willing to address how they themselves were part of the problem.”

“Outwardness does to inwardness what light does to darkness: it chases it away.”

Click here to download The Outward Mindset summary & infographic

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