A beginner’s mindset is when you have the open attitude of a beginner, no matter how much you already know or how expert you already are on a topic. It’s looking at our task at hand (or even the whole world!) through childlike or beginner’s eyes, with a sense of wonder and excitement, and with a fresh new view. Beginner’s mindset is also known as “Shoshin”, a term from Zen Buddhism.
Having a beginner’s mindset is beneficial for a number of reasons. When you are looking at things with a beginners mindset then you can learn more than if you are in thinking in the “I’m already an expert mode”. You pay more attention than if you think you already know everything about that topic.
To become a master at a subject you must revise what you believe you already know about it and be continually learning, open minded, and willing to accept new perspectives, driven to learn more, instead of being right all the time. The mindset of a beginner cultivates this. As well, you are more open to opportunities and possibilities than if you think you know the outcome or have assumptions about what will occur. It helps you to see things as they are instead of as you think they are.
Another benefit of beginner’s mindset is that you are at peace with being a beginner, with not knowing. This helps us to practice mindfulness. And the sense of inner peace that it brings assists with managing stress, our own expectations in what can sometimes be a busy and confusing world, and gives us a sense of calm and well-being.
You can strengthen your ability to have a beginner’s mindset in the same way you would as strengthening a muscle. Here are 7 tips on how to have a beginner’s mindset.
1. Listen and learn instead of trying to show off your knowledge
2. Ask questions instead of making assumptions
3. Consider the answers to your questions as a grey area instead of black and white.
4. Forget what you think you know about the topic and approach it from a fresh point of view of learning with a clean slate instead of already being an expert
5. Adopt a viewpoint of childlike wonder and excitement
6. If you feel it is a challenge to adopt a viewpoint of childlike wonder and excitement, then a technique that you may wish to try is to pretend you are an alien anthropologist from another planet, here to study earth and how we do things. You know nothing about the topic at hand and are learning with fresh eyes.
7. Practice mindfulness, and living in the moment. Be in the moment mindfully and it will be easier to have a beginner’s mindset.
Practicing these tips on having a beginner’s mindset will help you more easily slip into the beginner’s viewpoint mode and enjoy the many benefits that it brings us such a sense of mindfulness, enjoying the present moment, learning new things and challenging our existing patterns of thinking and knowledge to be able to learn and master aspects of a topic or task at hand. Seeing through the eyes of childlike wonder at the world around us will keep us enjoying learning and making exciting discoveries as we pursue our lifelong learning with a refreshing zest for life.