A good friend of mine has twins.
They’re just over a year old and they’re at a really cool age.
They have this outlook on life where they’re curious and amazed by many things.
For example, they’ll see a new toy. They’ll grab it. They’ll taste it. They’ll move it around. They’ll examine it from all angles. It’s pretty cool.
Have you ever ran into someone that feels like they know it all about a specific subject?
Or maybe it’s about a certain job.
Whatever it is we usually know someone that feels this way.
And if we’re honest with ourselves we probably fall into this category. I know that if I examine myself that I know I respond as if I’m all knowing on certain topics.
There is an interesting thing I’ve noticed, however, when it comes to this syndrome. It’s not an absolute, but it is something that seems to have some merit.
The ones that seem to know-it-all aren’t usually the most successful.
Think about it for a second…
Beginner’s Mind or A Beginner’s Mindset
The first company I worked for out of college had a great CEO. In fact, it had many people throughout the organization that I would consider to have a Beginner’s Mind or a Beginner’s Mindset.
Beginner’s Mind is being open to learning.
You look at the world as if you’re seeing it for the first time.
Think back to those twins. They’re brand new to the world. Everything is new to them. They are curious. They look for detail. They play around with things. They see how things work.
They’re not trying to impress anybody with their knowledge. They’re not offering advice or worse, unsolicited advice. They’re trying to learn. They’re open to learning.
That CEO I mentioned had a really great approach to life. He would walk around the office about once a month and meet with people in their offices. He would ask questions. He really approved things as if he was the beginner.
Obviously we knew that he had vast experience and knowledge. We certainly asked him questions, but for someone with such a high level of success he was very curious about life. He wanted to learn new things.
This was at a catalog company and at the time Internet marketing was fairly new. He would always ask me questions about content marketing, SEO and social media.
Sometimes I had answers. Usually he wasn’t necessarily looking for answers. He would just ask me what I was reading or what I was seeing. He wanted to gather information.
And that made me want to gather information and learn.
Successful People Are Always Learning
I like reading biographies and autobiographies.
The more I look back on the books I’ve read and the more I learn about successful people the more I see Beginner’s Mind. Most successful people got there because they were curious about things. They wanted to learn. It almost became an obsession, learning.
I’m reading Ray Kroc’s (founder of McDonald’s) book and he was very interested in learning. Heck, he was in his 50s when he got started with McDonald’s.
Most are thinking about slowing down at that age, but Ray was ready to keep learning. He wanted to keep moving and discovering.
There’s a good lesson. I’m not sure where it comes from, but the lesson is that humans are like plants.
A plant is doing one of two things:
There is no in between.
Think about middle aged people that you know. Are they putting things on cruise control? Are they looking to “settle down” or something like that?
They, I’m sorry to say it this way, are dying.
If you’re not growing by learning new things then you’re working on dying.
Knowing, Expectations, Criticism
These are all things that can lead to falling into the trap of dying.
Yes, we all know some things. That’s part of life.
But what if we approved even our areas of expertise with a Beginner’s Mindset?
What if we came to work one day and acted as if it was our first day in the office, in the industry?
Companies actually do this sometimes. They’ll bring in outside consultants to just give a fresh perspective on things. It doesn’t mean that they’ll act on everything the consultant tells them, but they’ll probably learn some new things.
Leave your expectations aside when you’re working and living. When you’re encountering something that’s new to you don’t be afraid. Don’t criticize yourself if you struggle with something new.
Perhaps a key to success is finding a balance between experience and knowledge and a Beginner’s Mindset.
You can approach life and use your knowledge. But there’s no reason you can’t still look for ways to improve. There is no reason you can’t look at things differently and ask questions and seek information.
Life is an opportunity.
You can grow until the day you die. The beauty of life is that you’ll usually live longer and live a more fulfilling life if you push yourself to learn and grow.
It’s better to approach life like a young child as opposed to a Know-It-All.