How and Why Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind?
Published on: 08.07.2021
Seeing life with a beginner’s mind, even if you’re an expert, is an approach that focuses on being open, curious, and preserve a childish sense of wonder in order to have fresh perspectives.
In other words, it helps to look at old problems with new eyes and to get access to various possible solutions. The concept of the beginner’s mind is translated from Shoshin, a word that comes from Zen Buddhism.
Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki said that “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, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”
This means that an expert’s point of view can be narrow, thus exclude alternative solutions to a problem, or outcomes. Even though an expert has more knowledge, he or she tends to be rigid and believe that there are one or two ways to solve a problem, and anything else is or might be wrong.
Because as expertise and knowledge build, so do predispositions, views, and ego. The expert has expectations based on knowledge and previous experience. All these can narrow down the thinking of a proficient person.
Letting go of all of these can be a challenge, especially when it might have taken years to build all that expertise and people come to you because you’re the professional.
The beginner’s mind makes daily activities fun, exciting, meaningful, and mindful
Have you noticed how easy is to go on autopilot when you do something that you’re good at? It turns into an automatic process. The beginner’s mind requires you to pay attention to what you do. Act like you’re doing what you’re doing for the first time and ask simple questions, what, why, or how. This approach helps to prevent a veil of predefined expectations from covering all the other possible outcomes. Also, fewer expectations mean that there are more outcomes to be grateful for. The advantage of the beginner’s mind is curiosity and eagerness to learn. Meanwhile, the reward is a better experience, less concern, more flexibility and gratitude, and a sense of being present.
How to cultivate the beginner’s mind?
Be willing to listen and learn
Enjoy new learning experiences
Do not judge
Slow down and pay attention
Keep your inner child alive and learn from children
Be open to other ideas
Find joy in daily activities
Question your assumptions and expectations
Being able to look at situations and problems with new eyes, will allow you to find more new ways to solve them.
Put your ego aside even when you know you’re an expert
Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of all time would say: “I’m smart enough to know that I’m dumb.”
In a nutshell, drop your ego and be curious like a child. Marine biologist and author Rachel Carson worded this in a beautiful quote:
“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”
The beginner’s mind comes in handy in entrepreneurship. Its greatest benefit is the ability to constantly come up with new ideas and innovative solutions. Remember that it’s difficult to innovate if you keep doing things in the same way you or others did before. Moreover, a beginner’s mind helps entrepreneurs to keep up with the changing business environment.
Moreover, this approach can benefit enterprises. Think of new employees. They are more likely to question the order of things and find more efficient ways to get work done.
The beginner’s mindset benefits everyone and if you want to gain an entrepreneurial mindset, you can take the free online training offered by the Entrepreneurship Campus.
Also here’s a challenge for you. Think about a problem that bothers you and find a solution using what you learned above. Afterward, you can submit your innovative solution as an idea or project to the Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition.