Embracing a Beginner's Mind

You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start in order to be great.
— Zig Ziglar

In order to become an expert at something you have to start out as a beginner, which usually means you suck at it. I say ... embrace the suck. I like to call this the art of just starting - not waiting until you have every duck perfectly in line.

Why?

Because if you don't give yourself the chance to be bad a something, you'll never give yourself the chance to improve.

When a toddler is learning to walk for the first time they fail far more often than they succeed - yet they keep trying. They don't shame themselves, dwell on their failures, or give up ... they just keep trying until they get it. And when they do eventually take their first step it is met with enthusiasm and excitement from everyone who has watched them try so hard for so long.

But when we try something new as adults, we are far less understanding of what it takes to do something for the first time. We have our ego, an inner critic, or unsolicited feedback to provide less then enthusiastic support.

While I am a big fan of feedback, there is a time and a place for it. Whether it is your own insecurity or your overly opinionated co-worker, I suggest finding a way to shut them up as quickly as possible.

Sometimes you just have to celebrate the baby steps and allow yourself to be a beginner. 

A Year From Now, You'll Wish You Started Today.

It has been almost 1 year since I launched the first episode of Women On a Mission To say the learning curve has been humbling would be an understatement.

Most people dot their i's and cross their t's before they launch things, but my process has always been a bit messier

At the beginning I didn't know what I was getting into, I just knew I needed to start and had faith that I would learn everything I needed to know along the way. There were periods of uncertainty, frustration, and doubt but also excitement as I watched the project grow. 

What started as an idea turned into an interview series, turned into a podcast, turned into a global project and mastermind group. I never could have imaged what it would turn into and am so grateful I gave it the space to become something more than an idea. 

In case you were wondering, listening to yourself for hours and hours on end while editing episodes is the fast track to wanting to throw in the towel because everyone else who has a podcast seems so much better than you.

But comparison is not part of embracing a beginner's mind. We all learn to walk at different ages, but the point is eventually we all learn to walk.

There's nothing wrong with being bad at something if it's part of the process you use to learn, grow, and get better. You have to put in the hours, the time, and the effort to improve step by step. 

Perfect Is The Enemy Of Done. 

I was talking to a friend and client about her business goals for the upcoming year. She recently ventured into a new client demographic and was trying to get an email pitch "just right" before sending it out. 

As we were reviewing the third draft of the email I told her, "The perfect email is the one you actually send."

It's important to put a product you're proud of out into the world, but at a certain point getting it perfect can get in the way of you ever actually starting. 

Most likely you will look back at your first draft of anything and cringe. So if you're stuck in analysis paralysis, just press send. In the process of falling and getting back up, I've learned so much more than I ever could if I had waited to get it "perfect".  

There is power in starting, in creating something you want to exist in the world. In allowing yourself to be a beginner again. And to the critics and the nay-sayers I ask ... "When was the last time you tried something for the first time?"

It feels raw and vulnerable because it is. Whenever I start to doubt myself, I am reminded of a quote I was first introduced to in Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming ...
— Theodore Roosevelt

When you're free from having to know the answer or being good, you can ask questions, experiment, get curious, have fun. You can fall and get back up again without shame, judgement, or fear of failure. 

You're free to look at things as if you're seeing them for the first time and give yourself permission to improve. That’s the power of embracing a beginner’s mind.

3 Ways To cultivate A Beginners Mind

1. Let go of judgement:

Give yourself permission to suck. This means taking it one step at a time, allowing yourself to be exactly where you are, and feeling however you want about it. But it doesn't mean you quit, compare yourself to others, or shame yourself for not being better yet.

2. Cultivate curiosity:

Ask questions. What if there was no right answer? What if you got to make up the rules? What if there was a different way? Let your self explore uncertainty and look at things from a different perspective. 

3. Have fun:

The journey is often more important than the final destination. Just start and step by step you'll get where you're supposed to go. 

So here is my challenge to you:

Just start. Create something today, even if you think it sucks.

 


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