Beginner’s Mind

As we step into a New Year, traditionally people make New Year’s resolutions. These might be about losing weight, exercising more, or pursuing an interest that never seemed to make the priority list.  Whatever the resolution, it really is about consciously choosing to approach life in a new way. This year I suggest a different approach.

Let’s all think about rolling back the clock and approaching life in a new way—with a beginner’s mind. Let’s all think about approaching life from the perspective that we are all amazing, wonderful, and capable of doing anything we set our heart to. Let’s imagine that no one has ever told us that we couldn’t, or weren’t capable of materializing our wildest dreams. Let’s imagine that all of the adults we grew-up with truly believed this and role modeled trusting ourselves and taking calculated leaps of faith. Let’s imagine that we didn’t have any experiences in our younger years that left us fearful and apprehensive to move out of our comfort zone and seize the day. Let’s imagine that no one ever judged, blamed or criticized us when our plans weren’t completely successful. Let’s imagine that instead they said, “…not bad for a first try, give it another go…”.

Consider  how different life would feel if you were taught that each and every one of us is wired for success, and that all we need to do is figure out how we are wired and approach life from that perspective. We call that our natural learning style. We don’t learn the same way and we don’t approach life in the same way, but we all have the capacity to be successful. So what separates the people that succeed from those that don’t? I think it is 95% perspiration, but in order to have that kind of drive and motivation you have to be doing something that really fascinates you and helps you feel the rightness of who you are and what is important to you. This does not mean we all have to be the next Nobel prizewinner.

Here is an example:

Many decades ago I was a service representative for Ma Bell. This was before computers so each of us had a big desk with 3000 accounts that we were responsible for. If any of our customers had a problem with their phone service their call was directed to our line and we would help them solve the problem.  Each month our work performance was reviewed and every month my supervisor told me the same thing. “Your calls run longer than any of the other representatives, but your customers are all more satisfied with your service than any of the other representatives”.

Why was this happening? Well, I had figured out that my customers weren’t just calling because their phone cord was twisted they were calling because they needed someone to listen and connect with them. They needed to be reminded that they were good, and important—at least important enough that someone would come and fix their phone for them. I was also aware that my tone, the rhythm of my voice, and my intent made a lot of difference in how they felt. I also made a point of not getting off the phone until I felt they had “regrouped” and were feeling better about themselves and life.

So what was I instinctively doing about 45 years ago? I was helping them begin their day with a beginner’s mind. I was helping them wipe the slate clean and start fresh. I was providing them with an opportunity to change their perceptions and approach life in a different way.

As I look back at that time, I am reminded that I was helping people change their beliefs so they could create what they really believed—not just what their automatic subconscious mind was dictating.

We have all had negative experiences. We have all been needlessly judged and criticized.  But we get to choose if those tapes are going to create our life. We get to choose if we are just going to repeat history or create the life that really belongs to us. It takes courage, guts, fortitude, and tenacity to realize a dream. Do you have those qualities? If you do, begin this New Year with a beginner’s mind and have fun realizing your dreams!

Nancy Marie

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