Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beginner's Mind (Tradecraft)

There's a Zen saying:

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.

The beginner's mind is full of possibilities, eagerness, and free from preconceptions. Meanwhile, the expert has hard earned ideas on what works and what doesn't and has been beaten down by the process of elimination. 

When it comes to giving advice, I try to keep this in mind. There are things I know are bad ideas, and then there are things that seem too far fetched or time consuming to be worthwhile. I'm probably right about the bad ideas, but that second category is how you build a business.  It's Beginner's Mind territory. It's also where the expert spends an inordinate amount of time attempting to return to, reading books, engaging with their experts, and pushing their own boundaries.

Also, every business is a unique expression of time and place, interpreted by the owner. There is no way I could possibly understand that owner's position without standing in their shoes. My expert mind is limited by my own experience interpreting my own time and space.

When I'm coaching staff, I try to give them room to express their entrepreneurial spirit, which means giving them room to fail. There's another good saying from that same Zen book: If you want to control your cow, give it a wide pasture. Wide boundaries have proven to be an excellent management process, provided you clearly communicate the fence lines. 

When my last manager left us after spending years creating processes and procedures, I was a bit concerned. My comment at the time: "I'm not sure where Parker ends, and Black Diamond Games begins." Part of giving people enough room is letting them put their personal stamp on everything they do, that wide pasture, unimpeded by the limitation of the expert's mind. 

This is just stuff to keep in mind when giving and especially, when receiving advice from those who have gone before. As the beginner, you have the realm of possibilities at your disposal, while the expert lacks the enthusiasm to fully engage in your vision. Use the veteran's wealth of experience for shooting down bad ideas, but embrace your own beginner's enthusiasm when it comes to expressing yourself in your business.

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