What if not having the answer is the key to your next breakthrough – the business edge you have been seeking as an entrepreneur? Living with a beginner’s mind attitude of curiosity and openness towards all possibilities can make every entrepreneur better. When you’re used to knowing what you know, thinking like a beginner can be surprisingly challenging!
“If your mind is empty…it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
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.
What Are the Benefits of Cultivating the Beginner’s Mind?
As adults, we are more inclined to rely on our experiences and expertise when approaching problems. We tap into our expert’s mind, our rich database for solutions. After all, our expert’s mind is our reliable and trusted source for the answers we need, especially in familiar situations. Of course, expertise is critical, this may seem counter-intuitive at first: it’s good to shift from the Expert’s Mind and become a beginner again, at least sometimes.
The Beginner’s Mind is the mind that is seeing the world anew, with new pairs of eyes, as though you didn’t know anything about it. It’s the mind that is open to new ideas and possibilities.
Learn More : 10 Exercises to Develop Beginner’s Mind
Consider how little children approach situations and problems – without judgments and pre-conceived notions. They have no expectation to manage. Children’s imagination is not limited to their experience (because they have very few or none). Their mind is untainted by prejudices and biases. And most importantly, little children do not possess the size of an adult’s ego!
Be like little children. They’re simply open, totally curious and ready to absorb all learning experiences.
Breakthrough with Beginners Mind
Many times, we assume the answer to a problem is similar to the ones we had used before. We confine the boundary of possible solutions to what is already known, without considering fresh perspectives. Our attitude tends to be, “I already know this” and we dismiss new ideas. We are less open to unknown possibilities.
Our brain is tempted to compare and map the territory to pre-existing information in our brain. And we unconsciously make assumptions in the process. We filter away information that is not agreeable to what is already known and what is working. Therefore, the expert’s mind is useful for navigating what is known, and not very useful for navigating the unknown.
If you want to get unstuck, be more creative and uncover ideas for new breakthroughs, it’s good to shift into the beginner’s mind.
What Happens If You Approach Familiar Situations with Beginners Mind?
You may uncover interesting points and see things from new perspectives. The more experts know, the more they realize that they only know so little. And they do not feel insecure by admitting they don’t have the answers. In the process, they challenge conventional approaches and uncover revolutionary ideas.
Read More : 7 Ways to Tap into The Beginner’s Mind Attitude
Many great organizations recruit new people. Because they have no prior experience, the new members are more likely to question how things work and uncover new perspectives and ways of getting things done. They can identify problem areas that are previously hidden or unaware of.
How to develop a Beginner’s Mind?
- Keep your mind open to many possibilities and ready to ask questions.
- Take one step at a time.
- Fall down seven times, get up eight times.
- Use Don’t Know mind. Don’t pre-judge.
- Make use of experience. Don’t negate experience, but keep an open mind on how to apply it to each new circumstance.
- Let go of being an expert.
- Discard fear of failure.
- Use the spirit of curiosity.
- Focus on questions, not just answers.
Approach Situations with A Beginner’s Mind.
Slow down. Challenge your assumptions. Investigate, be like a detective. Leave no stone unturned. Be curious. Ask deeper questions. Let go of judgments, preconceptions and expectations.
Most of the times, we have incorrect perceptions and myths about our consumers and users. Many entrepreneurs and marketers chose a problem to solve due to their personal experience and assume other users are like them. They fail to recognize that the fact in their mind is just an assumption.
Learn More : 5 Persuasion Hacks to Change Anyone’s Mind
When we prepare for user research, we activate beginner’s mind. We throw all assumptions about the user, avoid any bias — Keep a blank mind, so that we can observe in detail, listen to every word, collect the right insights.
Business Are Following Beginners Mindset
Today, companies are hiring for inexperience over experience. Managers feel that an unshaped mind, hungry for learning and growth may be more valuable than an employee already set in their ways, already experts in their field.
This is not to say that experience is a bad thing, rather than an open and flexible mind are both empowering for ourselves, and attractive to others.
We think we’ve got it all figured out, so we take answers from the past and we apply them to the future, which is fine when the world is stable, but when the world is changing fast, we can be missing huge changes in the market.
Beginners Act as Hunter/Gatherers of Information
Because they don’t have all the answers themselves, beginners tend to ask more questions, listen, and seek out opinions of experts. In doing so, they’re able to gather more diverse points of view that provide them with a wider view, leading to more innovative ideas.
In addition, because beginners aren’t weighed down by a wealth of knowledge or a reputation they need to defend they tend to move through the world of work life like backpackers venturing out exploring new terrain and are more likely to explore new answers to problems. Being thrust into a new situation also forces beginners to act on their toes and learn quickly.
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
This is especially true in the fast-changing world of 21st century, where new technologies, ideas and trends are popping up virtually every day. This reality forces anyone who wants to become a true expert to give up the Expert Mind and replace it with an attitude of a beginner.
If you want to master any given area, you have to buy into the idea of life-long learning. And to learn throughout your whole life, you need to not only stay attentive, open-minded and willing to accept new perspectives; you also have to be ready to give up some of your old, outdated ideas. Beginner’s Mind has the qualities of authentic learning, which is driven by the curiosity to know more, rather than an urge to always be right.
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