The Beauty of Beginner’s Mind

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative. – Steve Jobs

Happy child with painted handsIn Zen Buddhism there is a word Shoshin meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying or working with a subject, even at an advanced level. Regardless of how much experience we have we repeatedly engage our subject as a beginner would.

In the twenty years I have taught The Heart of Writing classes where students of different levels of experience, myself included, come together to do timed writings in class and share the raw work, I have noticed again and again that the people who saw themselves as beginners brought a real freshness to the work and the class.

While they would consistently apologize for it not being very good, the rest of us would delight in the vulnerability, openness and originality they so often expressed. Their work was free of the self consciousness that comes from thinking you have to do something good or in a particular way.

This is one of the reasons travel can be so enriching and invigorating. Each moment is full of newness that breaks us out of the conditions of our habit and expectations.

We can bring this sense of beginner’s mind to everything, seeing ourselves, the people and world around us as if for the first time. When we bring it to our creativity we feels a renewed sense of excitement and possibility.

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