Nov 26, 2009
Most people would probably think of writers and other industry experts as insufferable know-it-alls. You do see a lot of marketing gurus and social media experts flaunting their business success, giving tips and guides, and teaching other people some tricks of the trade.
What most do not know is that a lot of these so-called experts have learned what they know along the way. And the good ones, at least, are perpetually in a state of having the beginner mind. I came across the term reading past articles, particularly this one from Escape from Cubicle Nation.
Beginner mind is a state of being where you approach learning with no judgment, censoring, editing or preconceived expectations.
To me, basically, having that beginner mindset is being curious, and being a learner.
Learning is important, after all. Even if you have amassed a huge amount of knowledge in your years of academic study and even more years of actual experience in the field, there are still inevitably some things you will learn along the way. You can learn new things from the simplest and most mundane of things, to the most complicated of concepts. You can learn from theories, and you will learn more from applying these theories in real life (whether they succeed or fail in real life events is part of the learning process).
The beginner mind is not only important in business and entrepreneurship. In anything that you do, adopting the opposite mindset–the expert mind, in which you think you know it all–is sure to invite trouble. If you think you know it all, you’re no longer welcoming new ideas and change. You become closed-minded. You learn nothing. You stagnate.
In terms of the arts–writing and literature included–having the beginner mind also means welcoming new ideas and welcoming critique. If you think of yourself as the best writer in the world, with the best writing style and flair, with zero possibility of committing grammatical and logical mistakes, then you’re in for trouble.
If you’re sitting atop your pedestal, wearing your plumes in your hat for all to see, telling everyone you’re at the top of your game and you would rather not be elsewhere, then that’s probably not the best place you can be. If you think you’ve achieved your best, and you’re at the peak then there’s no way but down. Always look for challenges. Always look for opportunities to improve and do better. Then, even if you come down from your peak, you can always just bounce back up.
Be open to new ideas. Be open to new things. Have that infinite curiosity of a child, and try to learn as much from your environment. Learning is fun and exciting. I still relish at the thought of learning new things every time, even if it were just the simplest of things that I’ve overlooked through the years. I’ve often found myself in the trap of being insecure because I lack expertise in a lot of things. But then again, perhaps keeping my mind wide open is better than knowing it all.