“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
– Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki
If we’ve coached together, there was probably a point in which I assigned you something about Beginner’s Mind. If this is a new to you, the idea is a bit self-explanatory. When you embrace being a beginner at something, you are your most open and vulnerable. You are in a state of constant learning and experimentation. You actively work on non-comparison and non-judgment because well, you’re just starting out. There’s no need to know everything.
Yes, let me say that again. There’s no need to know everything. Ahhh…feels good to read those words, doesn’t it? And notice how I snuck the word “embrace” in there.
Being a beginner is one thing. Embracing being a beginner is another.
You can probably guess why I incorporate this idea into coaching. As soon as we think we want to make a change or learn something new, we spend a ton of energy on trying to guess the outcome. We want a guarantee that we’ll be successful. And we attempt to know everything there is to know about where we think we’re heading.
And to be clear, I’m in this camp, too. Over Christmas, I headed to Jay Peak with Amy to try snowboarding again. The last time I had attempted to learn was well over 8 years ago, but my memory was that I was able to at least take some turns. Let’s just say, we were in a constant hug for about 6 hours as I continued to fall on my arse and she picked me up. (She’s a remarkably patient teacher, by the way, which is no surprise to anyone who knows her!)
And while it was a truly humbling experience, I tried my best to embrace beginner’s mind. We laughed a LOT. My mind bounced between “C’mon Lins, you’ve done this before!” and “Lindsey, how could you possibly know how to do this? Work on this skill first.” I continually had to remind myself to let my expectations go and be in the moment. And each time I did, I’d make it a little longer before falling over.
I think embracing Beginner’s Mind is like embracing anything else. You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and that takes practice. I had a lot of practice in 2018. Here are the firsts I remember:
– Going to coaching school
– Airbnbing our house
– Saying goodbye to our 17 year old dog
– Gluten free baking
– Going on a month long road trip across the Southwest
– Recording a podcast (Money Date Night is coming soon, I promise!)
– Changing my brake pads on my scooter
– Demo-ing a carriage house and helping to rebuild it (almost there, Amy!)
– Playing a round of golf (not miniature J )
– Camping with a 1 and 3 year old
– Going on a mother/daughter trip with my mom
– Redoing our kitchen (including tile)
– Learning new WordPress themes and building 2 websites
Whoa, I really got going there! That’s a longer list than I thought I’d come up with. And sure, I came into many of these experiences with expectations (e.g. it’d only take 30 minutes to change my scooter brake pads like the Youtube guy said. Um, right.) But I also found out my expectations were often wrong and I came out on the other side stronger.
So now I’ll ask you…when was the last time you allowed yourself to be a Beginner? To embrace what it feels like to NOT know before you even begin?
And if you are someone who feels like they need to show up as an expert right away, what is something you could practice with? Make it tiny. Like brushing your teeth with the opposite hand. No one will see you. Well, maybe your dog.
I’m more of an intentions person than a resolutions person, so my 2019 intention is to show up more as a beginner. Let’s be honest, I have to as an entrepreneur and a coach! There is always more to learn. It’s okay to stumble. I know that’s how I build trust in myself. And I know that’s how you’ll build trust, too.
Happy New Year,