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Mark Cole: The Beginner’s Mindset

Is any leader really comfortable being known as a beginner? I don’t think so.

I’ve observed that most leaders have a natural desire to become an expert. But this doesn’t always lead to success in leadership—as John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

To continually grow and learn, you must approach as many things as you can as a beginner, not an expert.

Looking back on myself as a young leader, most of my goals and aspirations revolved around becoming an expert. I wanted to have all of the answers. I worked hard to not have any questions because I thought that it would make me look like a beginner. This approach to leadership limited my growth significantly.

Don’t miss this: the most successful leaders are teachable.

John Naisbitt says, “No one subject or set of subjects will serve you for a foreseeable future, let alone the rest of your life.” Having a beginner’s mindset will allow you to remain teachable and reach your full potential as a leader.

John Maxwell keeps 2 things in mind to maintain a beginner’s mindset:

1. Everyone has something to teach me.

John Maxwell says, “If you want to be successful tomorrow, then you must be teachable today. What got you to where you are won’t keep you there. And it certainly won’t take you where you want to go.”

You cannot be prideful and teachable at the same time. If you are in the habit of looking down on people that are “beneath you,” then you’re on a short path leading to failure. Pride will tell you that you don’t need anyone else to succeed, but humility will tell you that you can learn something from everyone.

I like what Erwin G. Hall says about this: “We can’t learn anything new until we can admit that we don’t already know everything.”

2. Everyday I have something to learn.

As you experience more success over the course of time, it becomes more challenging to maintain the beginner’s mindset.

Phil B. Crosby, the author of Quality Is Freesays, “Once people reach the age of their own personal comfort with the world they stop learning and their mind runs on idle for the rest of their days. They may progress organizationally, they may be ambitious and eager, and they may even work night and day. But they learn no more.”

Being teachable boils down to a choice: your attitude. In order to continue growing, we must choose to have a teachable attitude every day. As John Maxwell says, “a closed mind does not open doors of opportunity.”

Take on the beginner’s mindset! Ask yourself questions like these before you begin each day:

  • Where are the potential learning moments for today?
  • Who will I meet and what can I ask them?
  • What will I experience and what might I be able to learn from it?

Everything changed for me when I realized that asking questions was better for my growth and development than answering them. And I believe it will be for you too.

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