Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind

2 min read • May 17, 2013 • Ty Kiisel

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 2.59.54 PMEarlier this week, Linkedin introduced what they’re calling Channels. I’ve spent a little bit of time investigating and exploring to see what they’re up to and determine if this is relevant to our social media efforts at Lendio. When I stumbled upon the “Best Advice” section, I couldn’t help myself. There’s some great stuff from business leaders like Richard Branson, Naomi Simson, Nicholas Thompson, Martha Stewart, T. Boone Pickens and many, many others. Having spent a few years in Japan, it was Anand C., Entrepreneurial Product Leader at Yahoo! that caught my attention: Cultivate a Beginner’s Mind.

“In a world with so much opportunity & change (and therefore, uncertainty)—nothing could be a stronger reminder to go back to the basics,” he says. “Whether it is taking on changes at work or life, approaching new opportunities, meeting new people etc. it’s been sage advice for me.”

This concept really resonates with me. Almost all of my colleagues at Lendio are several years younger than I am. One of the things this does for me is remind me that there will be no laurel-sitting. I need to be on my toes and performing at my best to keep up. Anand regularly asks himself three questions that we would do well to ask ourselves:

  1. Would you make this decision differently (or make a different decision) if this were your first day in this role? I sometimes wonder if we allow preconceived notions fostered by previous experience to close our minds to new possibilities or approaches. I try to make it a point to regularly learn from the younger members of my team on a daily basis. I trust their opinions and look to their advice. I think it’s a mistake to offhandedly dismiss any ideas based upon from where they come. I think it’s good to regularly look at things from that perspective.
  2. Are you taking someone for granted just because you know them well? Whenever I make the effort not to prejudge a colleague based on past experience, my mind is blown by what they can bring to the table. I once spoke with a project leader who had a very brilliant member of the team who performed acceptably, but not exemplary. After talking with him, the project manager found out he’d been doing the same job on every project for so many years—he was bored out of his mind. When a little variety was introduced into his job role, he became a different employee.
  3. What are possibilities you are not considering given conditioning or acceptance of the status quo? I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard (and even said) “That’s never worked before.” Just because it hasn’t worked before or you’ve never gotten approval for it before, doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Sometimes a good idea needs to be revisited. We can’t allow the current status quo or preconceived notions to limit how we approach what we do.

Needless to say, I’ll be visiting Linkedin Channels more often.


Ty Kiisel

Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty makes small business financing and trends accessible in common sense language devoid of the jargon.