Shunryu Suzuki famously said “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” What it means is you are open-minded, eager to learn and approach everything without preconceptions. Approaching, living life, with a beginner’s mind is something some of us try to do, but most don’t. And trying is very hard because we have to actively force ourselves to do it.
With that said, I’m always on studying how other people approach their craft with a beginner’s mind.
One of my favorite rock bands is Tool. They just released their latest album, after 13 years, a few weeks ago so they’ve been getting a lot of attention lately. I read an interview with Tool’s lead guitarist, Adam Jones, on how he approaches learning and trying new things.
“It’s honestly all such a blur. Honestly, it’s all coming in and I try to be like a sponge and vulnerable, and I try to ask a lot of questions and learn. I also try to look at the world – the keyword being ‘try’ – in a more forgiving way.
“When I watch a movie, I pretend I’m 12 because when I was 12 I liked everything. So many people are so jaded about everything and I try to avoid that. I just try to do that with the arts and music in general, and when I hear something, I ask myself what the influences came in when someone was creating it and I acknowledge that a player might not be Eddie Van Halen, but they’re good and they’re good in their own unique way, and I try to pick up on that and try to think from my chest instead of from my head.”
So the key takeaway is he puts himself in the mindset of a 12 year old because he had no preconceptions about he liked and didn’t. I think this is interesting, and a very specific way to practice Vuja De!
How do you put yourself in a beginner’s mind?
Bottom line: Only when you are a true beginner can you learn anything, and you drive change when you stay a beginner.