In essence this means being open to new possibilities and seeing situations through fresh eyes, as if we had never experienced them before. By doing this is it allows us to look at things as they truly are, as opposed to what we think they are or evaluate them to be.
On any given day, our busy minds store experiences and memories for us, but they do so in an imperfect way, paying more attention to things that have the most meaning to us, hence some memories are stronger than others. And we don’t have perfect recall. These memories of prior experience are then accessed and used in our decision making processes which happens at both a conscious and non conscious level. By short-cutting to our past memories and the historical impressions we have of a situation rather than the one that is actually happening now, or by relying on the conclusions we came to on a previous occasion, or judgments we made about similar events or circumstances that happened in the past, our brains can at times distort our thinking and block us from making new insights about current events. If we can consciously set aside this “short-cutting” effect, experiences we would have unwittingly glossed over suddenly become known to us, and we open ourselves up to new insights and new possibilities.
It occurred to me how valuable the “beginners mind” approach could be in coaching, for example if you have a working relationship where you feel you are stuck in an old or habitual pattern of behaviour, and struggling to find a new way forward. How might you think differently about the other person if you were meeting them for the first time, if you had no awareness of the history that had gone on between you? Would you be more compassionate? Would you be prepared to listen more? Would you be open to experimenting with different ways of working? I’m guessing you would.
So, as an experiment this month, why don’t you :
- Choose a relationship in your life that would benefit from you adopting a beginner’s mind.
- Challenge yourself to test it out
- And notice what difference it makes!