Being a beginner

Being a beginner can be uncomfortable. Perhaps we were ridiculed for not knowing how to do stuff when we were younger, so now we're happy that we've mastered the main areas of our lives, so we don't have to suffer that humiliation again. Ever.

Seth Godin said it well. Competent people are the hardest to get to change, because they worked so hard to become competent, and they hate being incompetent. But when you ask them to change, that's what they're going to feel, and so they'll resist change.

But when we do that, we also miss out on not just the gift that learning something new could give us, but also the pure joy of learning.

When we get past the fear of humiliation or ridicule, being a beginner is actually fun. When we let go of the expectation that we should know, we can be child-like and playful and let our creativity come out.

In the words of Steve Jobs: "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods in my life."

I'm really being a beginner all over in my life right now. I'm learning Ashtanga yoga. Boy, did I feel incompetent. But once I got over the fear, and embraced not knowing how to do it right, it got really fun.

But yoga is not the only thing. I'm also a beginner at surfing. Got to stand up twice on my first time out. Woot! :) I'm a beginner at iPhone app development. I'm learning about Clojure and Scala and Erlang and Groovy and all the other cool programming languages out there that I haven't yet played with. I'm a beginner in the role as CTO for a bigger operation. I'm a beginner in learning a bunch of new database technologies like Redis and Riak.

The thing is: I love learning. Always did. And I learn pretty fast. I loved learning about marketing, about coaching, about spirituality, and it feels like it's time to learn a bunch of new things.

Being a beginner is awesome, because it allows you to shed some of the old stuff that no longer suits you and grow into something new.

It feels light and creative and playful.

What are you beginning?


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