While working with my coach last week, I learned about something called beginner’s mind. Being a beginner is not always an easy place for me to be. I forget that I’m not supposed to know everything right away and feel incompetent when I don’t. I don’t easily give myself permission to be a beginner.
What does it mean to be a beginner? Dictionary.com defines a beginner as a “person who has just started to do or learn something”. That something could be a new job, a new career, a new hobby or anything else that you can learn. Being a beginner means looking at something with curiosity, with open eyes, and without judgement. Learning is a process, a series of four steps from incompetence to competence. The four steps are described as follows:
- Unconscious incompetence – You don’t know what you don’t know.
- Conscious incompetence – You know what you don’t know.
- Unconscious competence – You know what you know.
- Conscious competence – You don’t need to think about what you know.
Think about when you were learning something new in your life. Before the subject came into your life, you knew nothing about it. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. You aren’t bothered by not knowing because the subject has not yet entered your radar. When the subject enters your life, you then become aware of all that you don’t know about it. This is conscious incompetence. This is the stage in which I feel the most uncomfortable. I don’t like being aware of all that I don’t know. I look at others who have more experience and knowledge and compare myself to them. I hear things like, “I’ll never be as good as that person” or “I can’t do that”. Sometimes those words in my head will cause me to give up on something before I even give it a chance.
Learning about beginner’s mind has given me permission to not know. My coach told me that in order to become a master of something, you need to practice it 10,000 times. I don’t have to expect that I’ll come out of the starting gate and immediately be a master at something. When I look at learning from that perspective, I am more able to relax and enjoy the process.
What do you expect from yourself while learning something new? It may be a new job, a change in your life’s situation, or a new hobby or interest. Remember, it takes time to master something new. Relax and enjoy the journey. You’re right where you’re meant to be.
Yours in transformation,