In 2022, Embrace Your "Beginner's Mind"
Updated: Jan 7
A friend and colleague recently asked me if I knew what a “beginner’s mind” was. I stopped and thought about it for a minute, then I had to ‘fess up and admit that I did not. I mean, I assumed it had to do with someone who is a beginner (no duh, right?) and who doesn’t know much.
I wasn’t far off – but yet again, I was! So far off ...
My friend explained that Shoshin, a word rooted in Zen Buddhism, refers to having an empty mind, a ready mind. It is 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.
I was intrigued. I wanted to learn more (I guess I was embracing my beginner’s mind, huh?) So I did what everyone who is seeking answers does: I googled "beginner's mind".
I was most intrigued by Tracy Ochester, author of Attitudes of Mindfulness: Beginner’s Mind. Tracy says “When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavor to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here … This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning.”
How many of us continue to approach life with a “beginner’ mind”? My guess is not many.
Shunryu Suzuki (1904-1971) probably said it best: “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”
So somewhere along the line, we seem to lose our willingness to have an open mind. As children, we are always in awe, always ready to take on the world. Then, at some point, we begin to color our expectation with our experiences - “been there, done that” syndrome. We start to believe we have all the answers and that we know better. We misplace our sense of wonder, thrill, excitement, and adventure. We stop willing to learn. We lose our “beginner’s mind”.
So how do we recapture our beginner’s mind?
First and foremost, we must keep an open mind and be willing to accept that we still have much to learn. This is probably the most difficult step! Really!!
We must acknowledge that there are infinite possibilities to every given situation.
We need to realize that we cannot judge everything as either right or wrong.
We cannot make all our decisions based on past experience.
We must live life consciously, be in the moment and not on autopilot.
We must realize that we cannot expect different results if we keep making the same choices over and over again - choices that are based on our past experience and what we believe we know as fact.
We must accept that what got us here will definitely not get us there (thank you, Marshall Goldsmith!).
And as we march towards 2022, we know our industry will continue to experience disruption and we have to approach each challenge, each experience, each decision we make with a beginner’s mind. We should put our past to rest, we should challenge the status-quo, and embrace the innovation and technology that WILL get us there – wherever “there” may be.
So my wish for you is to be blessed with a beginner’s mind. I hope you remain valiant in the pursuit of the unknown; and that you stay fearless and undaunted! May you have an open mind and may your heart pound with anticipation as you embrace every new experience, every thrilling twist, every new lesson, and every new chapter and adventure you embark on.
And we, at BlackFin Group, will be lockstep with you, making sure we embrace our own beginner’s mind so we can help YOU chart your course and navigate whatever 2022, and the years ahead, bring.