Oh I love this time of year, Back To School. It has always signified the start of a new year for me more so than the start of the calendar year.
The promise of learning new things, meeting new people and developing new ideas.
While you may not actually be going back to school or starting a new job, you can start afresh. You can launch into this week and approach what you do, how you do it and who you do it with – with a fresh, unsullied, untarnished view. It is more about the Mindset you start with. You can start with ‘shoshin’, a Japanese Zen term that means “a beginner’s mind”.
When we try something new we are open to possibilities, we are open to learning and are not biased by our assumptions. Once we become skilled at something, once we develop expertise… we are no longer open to learn.
Once we “know” how to do something we stop questioning it, we stop wondering about it and it can lead to intellectual overconfidence which, in an individual, can lead to overestimating one’s knowledge, arrogance or apathy. If this occurs in the workplace, we can visibly witness it through stagnation, lack of innovation or even decline.
Instead, we want to foster intellectual humility. Openness to new ideas and notions, brazen curiosity and unbridled enthusiasm for learning.
When you first started your job, you didn’t know everything… you had to observe and you asked why. You wanted to learn, you wanted to do a good job and you wanted to feel as though you belonged. You asked why when learning the process and procedures. You inquired about the acronyms and their origins. You contemplated more efficient and effective ways to accomplish even bigger goals.
If we can tap into that beginner’s mind we can see things in a new light, perceive better approaches and achieve even greater results.
One way you can nurture the beginner’s mind and cultivate curiosity is by introducing novelty. You can do this simply by changing up how you do something. Take a different route to work and notice the scenery, sit with different people at break and ask them questions about what they do, watch a documentary on a subject you know nothing about and then describe it to someone, attend a concert or live event and marvel at the stage set up, the lighting or the sounds . And then… ask questions, to yourself or others. What did you find intriguing and why? ‘How did they do that…?’ ‘Why did they do it that way?’ What did you learn that you didn’t know before and how can you apply it in other situations?
Notice. Wonder. Ask.
When was the last time you did something for the first time…?