In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
“If you don’t succeed on the first try, you give up,” my mum said. “You’ve always been like this, Giorgia.”
I had just told her of my dream to become a life purpose coach to help women figure out what their calling is and how they can use their gifts to fulfill it.
I knew it’d be tough and my past track record wasn’t promising. It’s true I tend to give up easily.
It’s not that I’m lazy or impatient (ok, I am impatient). It’s that I hate that incompetence feeling you get when you’re trying to learn something new.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a new language, building a business from scratch, or public speaking. For the first few months, you’re gonna suck. Big time.
The worst part? This stage seems to last forever.
It’s easy to get discouraged, feel like you’ll never get the hang of it, and give up. I did it many times.
But only with things I didn’t care about that much. Like learning how to play the flute or cracking the Instagram code.
I don’t enjoy these things and don’t have a strong why to keep going. Letting them go gives me the freedom to focus on what I really want to do.
If you really care about something, if you really need to learn a new skill to fulfill your purpose on this planet, you have no choice: you have to suck it up, be uncomfortable with being crap at it and give yourself all the time you need to master it (hint: it won’t happen in a month).
In other words, you need to adopt a beginner’s mind:
What Is Beginner’s Mind?
A beginner’s mind is simply the art of seeing things for the first time.
You’ve never come across anything like it before, so you have no expectations or preconceived ideas of how it should be.
You just notice what is. You look at it with fresh eyes, like a child looking at a rose or a cloud for the first time. You ask questions about it. Play around with it. Get curious.
When you’re in beginner’s mind mode, you are:
- Free of expectations and prejudices
- Filled with curiosity about the world
- Open to all kinds of possibilities
You can apply this attitude to anything in your life. Like, brushing your teeth. Making dinner. Or learning a new skill.
Why Do You Need To Adopt A Beginner’s Mind?
Adopting a beginner’s mind will help you succeed in fulfilling your life purpose (and anything else you want to achieve in life). Here’s how:
1. You Learn To Be Ok With Being Uncomfortable
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. It’s a cliche, I know. But it’s true.
Whether you want to start a business, become a NYT best-selling author, or rise up the corporate ladder, you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. Be comfortable with sucking at things and failing over and over again.
That’s what it takes to succeed.
If you think of yourself as a beginner, the failure won’t hurt so bad. You’re just starting out, so no one expects you to get it right on the first go.
Before you know it, being comfortable with being uncomfortable will become your new norm. Trying new things and making mistakes along the way won’t scare you anymore.
Need help to master that inner voice in your head that tells you it’s not ok to fail? Click on the image below to download the “Silence Your Inner Mean Girl” cheatsheet to turn your inner critic into your biggest supporter.
Related: It’s Not Failure. It’s Feedback.
2. It takes the pressure off
If you start out great, you’ll think you can learn anything quickly and be perfect every time.
If that doesn’t happen, your self-esteem will tank and you’ll feel even more of a failure.
Before you know it, you won’t try everything new. If you can’t get it right on the first time, it’s not meant for you, right?
Wrong. Allow yourself to make mistakes and suck for a while. You’ll get the hang of it – without feeling like a loser along the way.
3. You need time to learn the ropes
You can’t learn everything in one go. Let’s say you want to start your own business. Every day, a new challenge will come up.
You need to find wholesalers, create a marketing strategy, handle customer service and plenty of other things you never did before.
Chances are, you’ll settle for an email marketing provider only to come across a better one a few months down the road. You’ll create a system to handle customer service and outgrow it as soon as your customer base grows. That’s cool.
Give yourself the time and space to learn new things as they come up.
4. You Become More Creative
When you’re familiar with something, it’s easy to go into autopilot.
You’ve done it a thousand times before, so you already know what to do. The idea there may be a better way of doing it doesn’t even cross your mind.
When you adopt a beginner’s mind, you start seeing all the different possibilities. What would happen if you used a different tool or adopted a different strategy?
All of a sudden, you see the problem with new eyes and find solutions you never thought of before.
How To Practice A Beginner’s Mind
A beginner’s mind is a state of mind, an attitude. Here’s how to get in the habit of using it as much as you can:
Beginner’s mind is exactly what you practice in meditation. You focus on your breath and the sensations in your body, not as what you think they should be or what you believe they mean. You just notice what’s going on in your body.
The best part? Once you’ve learned the skill, you can call on it whenever you need it in your life.
Here’s a daily meditation practice that helps you develop a beginner’s mind:
- Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit down upright.
- Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath and any other sensations in your body.
- Thoughts will pop up. Simply brush them aside and focus back on the sensations in your body.
You can do it for 10 minutes or an hour. It doesn’t matter how long you practice, as long as you do it daily.
Overtime, you can start practicing mindfulness with whatever is in front of you. Like a bunch of flowers or a bottle of water.
You can practice mindfulness whenever you do any activity. Like brushing your teeth or making breakfast.
The goal is to make it become second nature.
2. Let Go Of Expectations
It’s ok to have an idea of how something will go. That’s how scientists discover things. They make up a hypothesis and test it. But they’re not attached to the outcome.
You can do the same. Get inquisitive and ask yourself these questions:
- What expectations do I have about what I’m learning?
- What expectations do I have about the learning process itself?
- Can I know these expectations are 100% true?
- What would happen if I did the opposite?
These questions help you let go of any expectations you already have and think of new possibilities you hadn’t considered before.
3. Get Curious
Imagine you’re 5 years old again. What questions would you have about the subject you’re learning about?
Find someone who knows a lot about it and ask them all the questions that come to your mind.
Don’t hold back. Kids don’t worry if their questions are stupid or not. They ask them anyway.
If this is too much out of your comfort zone, swap roles. Find someone who knows less than you on the subject and explain it to them like they were 5.
Over to you, now. How could adopting a beginner’s mind help you in fulfilling your life purpose? Share your thoughts in the comments below.