by Priyanka Roychoudhury
We get introduced to new things as children regularly. Learning is second nature to us. We are not only expected by society to learn but also provided with the space to fail while learning. However, as we grow up, both these aspects diminish in our lives. But the need to learn doesn’t. As a result, we struggle to rise to our potential as adults.
Adulthood is often associated with expertise. Yet having a beginner’s mindset as an adult can determine the quality of our life. This is more important today as we see the world around us change at a pace faster than ever before. We face new thoughts, technologies, and ways of living that are sometimes in conflict. This challenge what we know based on the life we have lived until now. It becomes important to then have the right mindset to make the most of our lives.
A beginner’s mindset plays an important role in the approach we take in our life; guiding what we do and why we do them. But what does it mean to have a beginner’s mindset? Here are five key elements that define such a mindset.
To be as curious as a cat
The motivation to be a beginner starts with cultivating curiosity in our daily life. Being curious about something new can lead to being eager to learn about it. Remember that sense of excitement and wonder as a kid each time we were introduced to a new thing? Bringing that amazement back to life starts with asking the questions of ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ as an adult.
The good news is that we all have the instinct to be curious. But, while growing up, many of us bury that instinct to avoid sounding ‘dumb’ or coming across as a novice. Unlearning this habit paves the way to opening up our minds to learning and being creative. It starts by first becoming aware of it and then being mindful to not default into that thought pattern.
To live with humility
To be a beginner is to accept that we don’t know everything and recognise the limits of our knowledge. This is easier said than done, as it requires us to tame our ego and let go of what we already know. A clean slate ensures that past experiences, thoughts and assumptions don’t taint the new experience.
For example, learning to play tennis becomes easier if we leave our knowledge from other racquet sports outside the court. If you think you know it already, you rob yourself of the opportunity to learn.
To believe in the power of effort
The success of learning doesn’t depend only on innate talents. Building upon talents through effort helps to maximise a person’s potential. This is at the core of a ‘growth mindset’. It emphasises that everyone is capable of change and growth through hard work.
Being a beginner with a growth mindset is empowering. It is easier to recognise that progress is incremental and it takes time to learn. Consistent effort will bear results within the right environment and opportunities.
To persist in the face of failure
An essential part of learning something new is failure. There will be frustrations and disappointments in the learning process. There is no escaping it. What matters is what we make of them. We have to allow ourselves to fail. Using each failure as a stepping stone to move to the next level in our beginner’s journey is progress. The psychological safety from this results in a compounding effect. We get more out of our failures with each successive attempt.
One of the key things that failure teaches us is resilience. The more we fail, the more resilient we become to keep on going. The other is experience. The fact that we tried something leaves us with first-hand experience. This is invaluable to a beginner.
To learn from others
Being a beginner comes with the acceptance that there will be others who are better. Having an open mind and patience to listen without judgment helps with the learning process. Social learning is a very efficient way to learn things. We do not have to figure everything out on our own. We can learn from other people’s mistakes and successes.
Asking questions is important for a beginner to learn from others. But so is listening to others. Being present and identifying how others can contribute promotes meaningful and engaged learning.