Professionally, we tend to do things for the paycheck. While I don’t think this a bad reason to do things, there has to be more there. There has to be deeper meaning, deeper connection to the work or else it will feel empty. There has to be a larger sense of contribution or creation or else your meaning will be zapped. We don’t want that. We want clarity. We want deep connection and meaning in what we do. We want to make a difference in the lives of others. We want to know that our contribution matters to others. We have to find it and create it and acknowledge it, bring it to light. Sometimes, we are doing it and doing it and simply not acknowledging it because we’re too busy doing it. But we have to take the time to acknowledge it, to celebrate it with others. We’re lucky to be here, doing this, creating this, contributing this, having fun in the process.
You won’t say you suck at it if you’re having fun at it.
You won’t say you suck at it if you’re having fun at it. You’ll have beginner’s mind, a wonderful state of being where you don’t judge your own performance nor do you compare yourself to others. You simply do. There is no better mindset to be in when you’re beginning something. Your mind is open, creative, and curious. You’ve got the learning orientation. You just go for it, having fun along the way.
So many of us are harsh critics of our early performances when we try new things. We judge. We condemn ourselves. We come down hard on ourselves. There’s no need to do this. It only makes things worse. Why does this become default to judge ourselves so early in learning? Why can’t we develop the learning mindset and be more open, creative, willing to fail, and curious? We forget this lesson early as children when our awareness of others kicks-in at an unfortunately young age. Yet this is the mindset that is pure and optimal when we’re learning anything new. Be open. Be Creative. Be willing to fail. Be curious. Stay hungry.
These qualities are all muscles we develop. But like our physical muscles, they require training and working out in order to develop them. We have to practice curiosity and constantly ask why things are the way they are and do they have to be that way. We have to practice being open to new things and new possibilities and new experiences, seeing things again for the first time. We have to practice creativity, viewing things from different angles and looking for other possibilities. We have to train on failure and change our viewpoint on it. Did you push something so far today that you failed at it? What did you learn today that doesn’t work? What are you grateful for today that you learned?
The learning mindset is patient and willing to allow time to develop skills. Nearly all of us are impatient when it comes to learning new things and skills. We say we do not have the time to invest in something gin order to get good, like, say, golf. We enjoy playing golf on the weekends, but we aren’t willing to invest the time and effort on drills, practice and coaching in order to improve. We aren’t willing to practice the same shot 10,000 times to really hone in on it. We think that’s drudgery. We’d rather be weekend hackers and that’s that, be done with it. Yet true improvement requires the drudgery and the sucking and the patience to see through the tough learnings. Then, you come out on the other side a master.
Given enough time, resources, patience, energy, coaching and grit, I believe I can figure out anything.
Given enough time, resources, patience, energy, coaching and grit, I believe I can figure out anything. This is the ultimate learning mindset, and it is the ultimate statement of self-confidence. You believe in your ability to figure things out. You can do this. Note how empowering that is: You believe in your ability. You can handle anything with the learning mindset. You simply must be wiling to be open, to be creative, to try new things, to fail, and then to try again. And if you can do this without judgment, all the better.
While this all sounds wonderful, very few of us possess the spiritual and emotional willingness to pull this off. We’re simply too impatient with the process, with the learning, with ourselves. We’re too busy for that. We’re too frenzied for that. We need a mindset reset, a reboot, if you will. We need to flash back to what it was like to learn as a child with patience, openness, and a willingness to fail while not caring what you look like in front of others. it is the essence of not caring in the best possible way. You’re invested in pure learning for its own sake. You’re genuine in your intellectual pursuit. You’re curious. And you’re having fun in the process.
Do yourself a favor. Watch a small child at play. Say, a 3 or 4 year old. Simply watch them do. Watch them create. Watch them paint. Watch them color. Watch them make things without including their own judgment as to its quality. Theirs is a judgment free zone. No harsh condemnations. No swearing at themselves. Nothing at all of the sort. Only openness to something new. Only creative play. Only doing for its own sake. Only trying and failing and then trying again. It is wonderful. It is pure. It is freeing.
Imagine what this would be like for you, to try and do and create without personal judgment or harsh condemnation. To be free and try new things that you’ve always wanted to try. Go surfing and enjoy the process. Go skateboarding and enjoy the new process. Hop on a Bird or Lime electric powered scooter and scoot down the street. You might surprise yourself at how good you actually are at these things. You’re likely better than you think, but not that that would matter. Because you’re creating and doing without personal judgement or harsh condemnation. You’re making new things happen for yourself. You have reconnected with what it is like to be a child engaged in pure learning and creating. You’re allowing yourself to enjoy the process through curiosity and trial and error.
Go try something new, something you’ve always wanted to do. You don’t have to tell anyone about it. You don’t need to take anyone with you. Just go and do. Reset your expectations from the outset. Tell yourself to enjoy the process of the thing, the newness of it. It is perfectly natural to not be very good but don’t even worry about that. If you are doing it with others, remind yourself that they ,too, are new and are strangers that are not judging your performance. They’re learning, too, and are just trying to have fun. Take this knowledge, these feelings and enjoy that new action, activity or process. Rekindle child-like play from within.