Do you like to know all the answers?
Do you like being right?
Do you like being the expert in the room?
If so, I’d like to introduce you to something called “beginner’s mind.”
Beginner’s mind is a concept I first learned in yoga. It’s the idea of always coming to the mat with curiosity and an appreciation for the basics.
As humans, we want to be advanced. We dream of that little rush that will come when we accomplish something new, hit a milestone, earn more money. We find the basics boring.
Now, I’m all for knowledge, growth, evolution and improvement.
But I also see the mastery of the basics as fundamental to growth and knowledge.
It’s true in yoga, it’s true in thought work, and it’s true in life.
If you don’t have a solid downward dog, you’re not going to get into crow pose. If you don’t have a good bridge pose, you’re not going to get into wheel.
When we overlook this, we rush our development and set ourselves back.
I see this in my students all the time.
When you join the Clutch, you spend the first month learning the UnF*ck Your Brain coaching model. It’s the foundation of thought work and the most important tool I teach.
Sometimes people who are familiar with it from working with me before will email me and say, “I already know the model, so what should I do for this first month?”
It always makes me laugh.
Because you can study the model for a LIFETIME and still learn new things about it.
I’ve been studying the model deeply for years and I still learn something new every time I do one.
The “basics” of thought work will fuel me for a lifetime.
Learning nonjudgmental observation and acceptance, learning how to differentiate between thoughts and reality, learning how to create what you want in life…these are the basics of the model, and they are lifetime endeavors.
The best coaches I know are the same – we know these concepts, we teach them, but we don’t assume we are experts.
We show up with beginner’s mind.
We’re excited to learn this very basic thing all over again from a new direction or in a new way.
Now, of course there is room to advance and develop your skills and expertise.
But the basics are ALWAYS important.
True learning isn’t about getting the most gold stars in class.
It’s about practicing curiosity instead of certainty.
It’s about showing up to learn the same concepts over and over at deeper levels.
The more you can cultivate beginner’s mind, the deeper your learning will be.
Not only will beginner’s mind help you deepen your thought work, but it will also keep you present with your experience.
When you show up to the mat for yoga practice with beginner’s mind, you don’t go on autopilot until you get to the one or two advanced poses you’ve been wanting to work on.
You are present for the whole experience. You are curious and interested and attentive to the experience. And you learn so much more.
The same is true in thought work and in life.
When you tell yourself, “I know I’m upset because of my thoughts, but…” that’s a sign you’re not in beginner’s mind.
You’re skipping over the part where you sit with your current thoughts and observe them with curiosity.
You understand the concept intellectually but you’re not truly applying it.
You want to rush to the next “tool” that will help you. But what you need to do is observe where you are with curiosity and compassion.
When you’re impatient with your own “progress” or you’re measuring your thought work at all, you’re not in beginner’s mind.
You’re thinking about the past (where you were “worse”) and then the future (where you should be “better”).
In contrast, beginner’s mind is about practicing curiosity instead of certainty.
And beginner’s mind can not only revitalize your thought work, it can also revitalize your relationships.
How often do you assume you know what other people are thinking?
NPR recently discussed a study where married couples were asked to predict each other’s answers to questions. They had only a slightly better than random chance of getting the answer right, but they were disproportionately certain (wrongly) that they knew it.
In other words, they assumed they knew what their partners would think and say, but in reality they had very little idea.
The didn’t see each other with curiosity.
They didn’t approach their partners with a beginner’s mind.
Imagine what it would feel like if you did?
And let’s really go wild: What if you could apply beginner’s mind to yourself?
How often do you challenge your beliefs about yourself and your flaws?
How often do you practice curiosity with yourself and believe in your ability to start from scratch?
How often do you approach the true facts of your life with neutral curiosity rather than your same old story?
Try approaching just one thing today with beginner’s mind. It will change everything.