Maintaining a beginner’s mind helps us stay open to learning and growing throughout our lives. It gives us the humility to embrace knowledge gaps, as well as the confidence to take on new challenges that come our way. By practicing this kind of mindset, we can recognize opportunities for growth that would otherwise go unnoticed and become creative problem solvers.
In his new book, The Creative Act: A Way of Being, Rick Rubin illustrated the power of a beginner’s mind with stories about unlikely successes like the defeat of a Grand Master “Go” player by an AI opponent and the rise of Ramones as pioneers of punk rock. He calls it “innovation through ignorance”—an approach characterized by childlike curiosity and an openness to learning something new.
This kind of attitude can help us become more resilient in the face of adversity and push boundaries before we’ve achieved success. With humility, we can recognize our limitations without assuming superiority over others. And with confidence, we can trust our judgment even when it goes against popular opinion or convention. This leads to a virtuous cycle where our experiences give us more courage to ask difficult questions and take on greater challenges.
If you’d like to learn more about harnessing the power of a beginner’s mind, keep an eye out for my upcoming book A Test for Our Time: Crisis Leadership in the Next Normal which will be debuting this spring.