Beginners Mind

Beginner’s Mind

“The story was writing itself and I was having a hard time keeping up with it.” — Ernest Hemingway

You may have heard athletes or artists talk about how their best performances happen when they are in a state the Western world refers to as “in the zone”. You’ve probably experienced it yourself, usually in the context of meditative activities.

Perhaps the Eastern description of this state, called “no mind”, is more revealing. In this state, you are free of thought, completely calm and focused, executing your task to perfection. Creatives talk about becoming vehicles for a deeper creative source.

From Harvard Dr. Ellen Langer’s ground-breaking research on mindfulness to spiritual teacher Deepak Chopra’s “9 Steps to Creativity”, many have examined the subject. Several common themes emerge as entry points to accessing this state of peak performance.

One of those themes is the Beginner’s Mind. It refers to that initial state of wonder when you encounter something new. At that moment you are in a state of pure observation, taking in what’s in front of you, free of any mental projections and judgments.

The overarching experience of Beginner’s Mind is one of curiosity, surprise, focus, if not straight-up elation and joy. If you lean into that place of wonder, it’s easy to see how passion and insight arise from it.

But the apparent simplicity of the concept belies its complex underpinnings. As you become more experienced in your personal and professional life, the experiences of the past start to block your ability to perceive the new. The more experience you have, the more your mind is consumed with preconceived ideas about things. It becomes harder to stay fresh and derive insight and inspiration from novelty. You become prone to repeat that which you already know. As a result, your creativity and present moment happiness suffer.

How can you set aside your intellectual knowledge and train yourself to respond to circumstances, not mental projections and expectations? Is it possible to turn every-day situations into opportunities for personal and collective growth? Can you elevate repetitive experiences, so that even ordinary things shine? Stanford’s d.School Design Thinking program has some pointers on how to tap into the Beginner’s Mind:

  • Focus on questions, not answers
  • Focus on possibilities, not problems
  • Don’t be afraid to ask ‘dumb’ questions
  • Embrace failure. It’s how you learn!
  • Respond to circumstances, not projections
  • Let go of ‘shoulds’
  • Let go of Professional Priesthood

There are many other benefits to Beginner’s Mind. The ability to listen to others with an open mind creates greater trust and deeper personal bonds. You experience empathy for other beginners while making yourself available to unexpected discovery and innovation. Most importantly, you stay fresh and relevant.

An open mind is free of judgments about experiences from the past, and projections about the future. An open mind does not cling to a preconceived notion of how something should be but accepts what is without judgment. That is the Beginner’s Mind.

How open are you?

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages

RELATED POSTS

Positive Thinking
Members

Think Positive

You never need to think positive to tap into the reality of life. Just stop judging and be you. To be you is as positive as it gets.

Read More »
Find Your Tribe
Members

Find Your Tribe

Most of the time, you already know the answers to your questions. You just need someone who can reflect your feelings. Your tribe is your mirror.

Read More »
Be Your Design
Members

Be True to Your Design

You are designed by the same forces that design the stars and planets. You are not alone. You don’t have to figure out your life, before it happens.

Read More »

Ask a question!

Choose from several options to ask Chris a question.

Beginner’s Mind

NOTIFY ME

Beginner’s Mind

JOIN THE WAITLIST