Shoshin is a word from Zen Buddhism which means “beginner’s mind.”
It refers to an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even at an advanced level – just as a beginner in that subject would.
The idea is that as an expert, you have a limited perspective, like digging a hole deeper and deeper as you get deeper into the information – your capacity to see more shrinks.
Conversely, with a beginner’s mind – you maintain the capacity to have many perspectives and ways to view a single subject.
Whether approaching a project or a conflict – what would it be like if you came with a beginner’s mind?
Ways to practice Shoshin
- Let go of the need to add value – this is tough. If you need to add value constantly, you are also not listening to learn. The two can go hand-in-hand, but it’s very easy to slip into listening to respond mentality when you are overly concerned about whether people see you as a value-add.
- Stop trying to win the argument – If you are disagreeing with someone, listening to find weaknesses in the opposing opinion to win the argument can take over. That may feel good for a moment, but the right mentality should be to listen to learn the opposing perspective.
- Listen more & ask more – Maintaining curiosity is key to Shoshin. The more curious you are about what people have to say and how they think, the more you are practicing the beginner’s mind.
- Be humble about your intelligence – everyone can teach us something.
References and Resources
Originally Published March 29, 2018