Ever noticed that some people tend to “get” things a lot quicker than their peers?
Something that I share with friends and family is having developed a habit of asking someone smarter than me to explain things to me like I’m two.
Some welcome it and teach me something I didn’t know, others, like my son, seem to find my nerdiness rather annoying (leave it to the universe to give me, a lifelong nerd a son that’s cool and popular in school, can’t say I don’t appreciate the irony).
It’s helped a colleague break into the Aviation industry, another disrupt the CBD space, some of us carve out a niche in the luxury coffee market, another colleague reimagined her place in the adult industry, another cemented his premiere status with the NFL, and one more went from overlooked tech specialist to running the networks her government uses
This habit, when mixed with rapid experimentation has opened up more doors than just about anything I’ve ever tried, and thus began my admiration and constant use of Beginners Mind.
What is Beginners Mind?
based on a Zen teaching that explains, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
Further explained: “ Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning “ beginner’s mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.”
Who Benefits From Beginner’s Mind
Most of us want to be the best. We want to “realize our potential”. BUT this can have negative effects (especially those of you who were raised being told how smart you are). It can keep your thinking close-minded and our behavior fixed. Mindfulness is needed now more than ever, especially if you have this desire to contribute to things getting better in your life, your career, your city, your home
Beginner’s mind, on the other hand, is like constantly hitting “refresh” in the browser that is our brain.
It helps us embrace learning, growth, and compassion.
Some of the benefits my colleagues and I have discovered include
* Being way more receptive to ideas and possibilities
* Seeing creative solutions to challenges because of your expanded perspective
*You ask for help more readily, which accelerates your progress and frankly, makes meeting new people even more exciting (and that’s coming from an ambivert like me)
*You view failure as feedback (and a success)
Why Use Beginners Mind
Technically speaking, it’s up to you whether you want to learn about or use this method. I’m not a “guru” that’s gonna work to convince you to try new things. You’re a big boy and/or girl, make a choice of what your limits are…
When To Use Beginners Mind
For the past 9 years I’ve been coaching/consulting Brands and the Executives that run them, what I have walked into too many times to count often looks like… well … this
Thing is, we all have different types of intelligence and excel in different areas. The other thing is, that our experiences and perspectives mixed with our level of intelligence creates cognitive biases — anecdotal “evidence”. Translation, we often get in our own way.
and now….my favorite part…
How To Implement Beginners Mind
We’re going to keep this simple because there’s always that one person that tries their hardest to make themselves the exception (middle child syndrome much?).
Here are some great steps to take that help you adopt a Beginner’s Mind as you work towards building an improved quality of life:
1. Take that stick out of your…
If you’re getting caught up in how things should be or how your brothers’ sisters nannies aunts uncle neighbors dog told you “had to” do things, try asking yourself “why the fc*k am i taking constructive criticism from someone who never built anything? Or you could wonder, “what would this look like if it were easy?” or “how could I make this fun?”
2. Explore yourself and your surroundings, again and again
If you were a scientist, what would you be like? Exploration sparks discovery, which sparks learning. Seeking out interesting experiences is a great way to engage your Beginner’s Mind. Give yourself at least a weekend to try out your new habit, too. Research suggests this is enough time to learn a new skill without it being overwhelming.
3. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast
Ever notice those New Years’ resolutions rarely pan out? Don’t worry about having the future perfectly planned out. With a beginner’s mindset, you always have a choice to start fresh. For example, focus on making a minimum of one move a day towards a big goal. Small, consistent wins are key to maintaining positive habits.
4. Your ego doesn’t own you
I promise I won’t tell anyone you said this aloud….ready? Repeat after me… “I don’t know”… was that uncomfortable? Yes? No? If yes, then may I suggest tackling those insecurities. If no, then cool let’s carry on… the ones who said yes are about to get all emotional and volatile and we clearly cannot fit in the same room with their egos.
In all seriousness, you never know what you don’t know and that sort of wonder can be a catalyst that invites in new experiences, people, and perspectives. Admitting your vulnerability allows you to be a beginner again without fear of looking foolish… sidebar here… but if you actually do have trouble admitting you don’t have it all figured out perhaps consider that those that pretend to, are bullsh*tters.
5. You own your ego
As you pursue new habits, you’re going to face the voice of your inner critic, and maybe a judgemental person or two. Stopping these thoughts and people isn’t effective. Instead, picture your thoughts and opinions as all those TVs in the matrix scene where Keanu meets the Architect. Notice them, but let them come and go non-judgmentally like the keyboard warriors on social media.
6. Channel your inner dope
Asking questions is at the heart of the beginner’s mind. Children are naturally good at this, but we tend to lose this curiosity as we age (spoiler: It’s because of your ego). Practicing curiosity helps your odds at achieving success by honing your skills at self-inquiry. Beginners aren’t afraid to ask for help, a lot like Anthony Bourdain explored cities, cuisine, and people, seek out the advice of others. Get out there!
Looking forward to hearing how you set these into motion for yourself
Here’s to escaping average