“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities,
but in the expert’s there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki
There is a concept in Zen Buddhism called Shoshin meaning “beginner’s mind“. It refers to having an attitude of openness and eagerness. Treating everything as new through the eyes of a total beginner.
The challenge around this approach is so many of us are distracted by future creep. Forever looking ahead to where we want to get to, we get frustrated at our apparent lack of skill or knowledge. We wistfully wish for future achievements but fail to enjoy or recognise the long path that may be necessary to get us there.
Or perhaps we bring the baggage of the past with us. Past failures can mean we trip ourselves up before we begin. Past successes may mean we approach what we’re doing with a ‘know it already’ attitude. Neither are likely to be ideal in our pursuit of a goal that means something to us.
With the beginner’s mindset we have to fight our obsession with looking forward or looking back. Instead, we approach what we are doing with an open curiosity. We approach what we are doing with a willingness to learn and absorb.
The benefits of approaching tasks and life in general with the beginner’s eye include:
- Developing an open, almost childlike curiosity where we get excited about learning the new
- Letting our preconceptions fall away
- We let go of our self-imposed pressure to project ourselves as an ‘expert’ or ‘having it altogether’
- We see the possible where others see the impossible
- Remaining enthusiastic and open to the possibility that we really don’t know it all (and none of us do!)
- Others around us get swept along with our enthusiasm
- We open ourselves up to learning more
- We open ourselves up to improving
The beginner’s mindset is something we could all do with trying to get more in touch with. Try it for yourself. Start afresh and see the new in everything.