Adopt the beginners mind


Do you view yourself as an “expert”?

Personally, I cannot say I’m an expert at anything. In fact, I don’t want to be an expert. For me, having The Beginner’s Mind means that I am always learning. I never get too comfortable, lazy and content with my own knowledge. Even when approaching the projects and activities I’m most comfortable with, such as starting and running companies, I feel that I am nothing but a beginner learning new things every day. I am hungry, restless, dissatisfied, worried, frustrated and making mistakes. I’m trying to be wise, but I constantly find myself facing new challenges that require new solutions and things I have never done before.

Adopt The Beginner’s Mind and stay hungry. As I have been a beginner for most of my life, I may know a little more in my field than the beginner who has just started to learn. But that does not mean I am an expert, and it does not mean that I don’t have to learn from others. By viewing yourself as an expert, you risk guarding your knowledge too much, since that is the foundation of your professional identity. This makes you unwilling to challenge your own beliefs, making you weak and vulnerable to new knowledge since it becomes a threat to you rather than an opportunity. So, being an expert can be a potential weak- ness. The beginner moves ahead with the flow.

If you think of yourself as an expert, you might base your existence and livelihood on it and demand that people respect your authority. To be an expert, in a positive sense, means that you are willing to share your ‘expertise’ on a subject when you are in a situation with people who have less experience than you. It will sometimes happen that you are invited to a meeting or event in the capacity of an ‘expert’ on one thing or another. If you find yourself in this position, be humble about it, and also acknowledge the limits to your knowledge and experience.

Arrogance is one of the worst social crimes. The arrogant person thinks he knows more than other people, and looks down on them. It may well be that he knows more, but that doesn’t mean that he is superior.

There have been times when I have found myself to be the most knowledgeable person about something – for example the workings of an online business – and I have lost my patience with people who don’t have the same level of understanding as I do. It has happened that my impatience, and, yes, arrogance, showed. It always makes me feel bad. The consequence is that communication is lost; the rapport and the relationship are replaced with hostility and coldness. Instead of achieving something together, there are then two opposite parties instead. Avoid becoming the arrogant expert and distancing yourself from others. Be the humble beginner.