Beginner’s Mind

Image by Gerd Altmann

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few

DT Suzuki

We come into situations with stories, expectations and answers. The beginner’s mind challenges us to be open to learn, curious and adaptive. Our work has never demanded a beginner’s mind more.

Not to Specification

2020 isn’t performing up to specification. We had plans. We had goals. We knew what we could do and what it would take. All those expectations are being disrupted one by one – by bushfires, by pandemics, by changing economies, political turmoil and by climate change.

We can approach this mess through our hopes, our expectations and our standards. We will be disappointed. 2020 cannot live up to the narrative that we brought into this year. The pain and anguish that has been caused around the world is too obvious even for the most oblivious.

We can apply a different approach. We can grieve for what has been lost, but we also can start to work on our way forward. We can be open to search for learning and opportunity in all the turmoil. We can be present to what is and apply a beginner’s mind.

Beginner’s Mind

Once we delete the story we brought into the year and all that we tied to it, new paths open to us. The beginner’s mind is where we approach our circumstances with openness and a keen eye for learning.

The beginner’s mind makes us entrepreneurs of our lives, our circumstances and our work seeking to make value where we can. In place of our imaginings, we can focus on the present and the needful. With the naive open eyes of a beginner we will see opportunities that did not exist in our preconceived narrative. Lifting our eyes from a chosen path we see there are other ways through and around.

Working in new ways will challenge us to be more agile and adaptive, to create new value through new conversations, collaborations and approaches. If 2020 is a kick in this direction, it is also a reminder that the most important element we bring to our challenges is not some new piece of digital kit, it is the creative potential of human curiousity, openness, learning and creation. The beginner’s mind releases us from the bureaucratic constraints, accepted ways and deeply engrained stories to leverage that potential.

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