Embrace the Beginner’s Mind

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In recent years, people of all walks of life have embraced mindfulness, and slowly businesses are starting to see its potential value. During the past three years, I have worked hard to integrate the beginner’s mind into the way I approach life. By adopting this mindset, I have gained new perspectives and worked hard not to allow my past experiences to overwhelm future opportunities. Below I share two unique perspectives so you can think about how to about how to incorporate this mindset into your daily life, regardless of your stage in life.   

Employee Perspective
When you start a new job, it can be exciting and terrifying all at the same time. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to find new ways to drive value, expand your knowledge, and meet new people. On the other hand, it is a very humbling experience as there is often a steep learning curve. Whenever exploring something new, those that adopt the beginner’s mindset are open to endless possibilities.

By immersing yourself into the business, asking questions, doing research, and not being afraid to try new things, you are cultivating a beginner’s mindset. You’re also building a solid foundation for future success. Good leaders appreciate this approach as they recognize your eagerness to learn and your humility for acknowledging what you don’t know. Your co-workers will appreciate you too as no one likes working with a know it all.

When new to an organization, my go-to question is, “I am new, and I know I have so much to learn, can you explain X, Y, and Z to me?” I’ve found that people love sharing their knowledge with others. The next time something comes up, they will likely think to share it with you without solicitation. This gives you the knowledge you need to drive value. By taking the time to learn from others, you are also developing relationships, which is equally important.

The key to keeping this beginner’s mindset is to never stop learning, ask questions, leave preconceived notions at the door, and think about things from the perspective of those that have limited knowledge about your company. When you stay curious, you can avoid falling into a rut and becoming blind to your biases. It can be a challenging task but with self-awareness something you can accomplish.       

To learn more about the Beginner’s Mind, watch this video from Jon Kabat-Zinn, an expert in mindfulness.

Leader Perspective
As a leader of a company or organization, odds are you are an expert in your industry and have a great depth of experience. Undoubtedly, your expertise and experience is very helpful and provides you and your company with value. On the opposite end, is your new employee. He/she is likely a novice when it comes to your company’s inner workings. Some leaders dread onboarding someone new, while the best leaders look forward to gaining new perspectives and ideas.

Your new employee provides you the easiest access to the beginner’s mind. As leaders, it is important that we actively listen to the questions our newest employees are asking us, instead of just answering them and moving on. Having a new employee is like getting to talk to a consumer or customers due to their limited knowledge about the company. Their questions can provide great insights into the gaps the company may have that are causing a disconnect or confusion. Additionally, your new employee may be able to help fill those voids with their fresh insights.

Unbeknownst to the new employee, he/she is often shining a light on what is engrained in the company/department and your thought process. But if empowered, this new employee could encourage you to examine the “way you’ve always done things”. So often we get stuck in a rut of doing the same thing over and over, but when we let someone new into our circle, they provide a unique perspective and can infuse new ideas that breed life into an old initiative or tactic or help us overcome a problem that once seemed impossible.

The next time you are onboarding a new employee, make the time to actively listen to their questions, encourage them to ask questions of you and others, and be sure to ask them questions too. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn from a newbie. To learn more about how you and your team can adopt the beginner’s mind, click here.

Let me know how you are working to adopt the beginner’s mind in the comments.

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