How to Develop Beginner’s Mind For Lifelong Learning?

Enhancing your overall ability to learn over lifetime was never so critical in the history. Students, employees, entrepreneurs, or governments workers — all are living under the fear of uncertainty about the future. This fear of change can prison you if you don’t adapt new style of learning and working.

You are facing this situation because technology has changes the world, automation is replacing labor force, and if you want to continue new and relevant skills will be required.

In this difficult situation wasting your energies in learning a new complex subject will be futile, rather you should create new learning habits by making small improvement at a time that will stick and improve your situation in the long run.

Even if you are an expert having decades of experience in a specific field and own a good title in a large organization — you are not spared, and if you don’t improve and align your immediate future goals with changing economics, soon you will lose direction in your career.

Your conviction and willpower to change can transform your life. In coming paragraphs we will observe how you can use new opportunities with new methods, skills and habits.

Kickstarting Your Beginner’s Mind

You don’t need to strive hard to bring in your beginners’ mind, it already exists. All you need to do is drop all your preconceived ideas about learning, re-skilling and becoming expert.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.
— Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

Think and Learn Like a Child

We need to learn how to look at things like we are looking at the first time. Sounds easy, right? But NO, it is rather very difficult to look at things without bias and pre-conditioning. It takes a scientist or a child to think and learn like that.

Think Multiple Solutions

If you already know a subject, most probably you know all about current issues and how to solve — that’s where the problem lies. An expert knows the solution and talks about one correct solution and he know why. However a beginner has endless possibilities and multiple solutions. A beginner can find out solutions that look radical but may better than the expert’s solution.

Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.’
-Robert A. Heinlein

Listen Carefully and Ask Question

This shouldn’t be hard. But be warned that listening a real art and asking the right question is half the answer. Watch your thoughts and reaction when you are listing to some expert. Do not hesitate to ask stupid question. Answers have to make sense, not questions? Remember, if you don’t ask stupid question, you remain stupid. Do not try to be too quick in judging answers and labeling them.

“Why Not?” Attitude

Drop your mental baggage that you are so much used to and ask Why Not?Why there is not better and cheaper solution? “Why?” is a very common question that people ask, that’s good, but another important question is “Why not?”

You come across someone’s real life story and you find it is more than just interesting; it has plentiful lessons this world can use. Why not write it? Why not me? Did you ask yourself? “Why not me?”

You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’ — George Bernard Shaw

Getting Professional

Educate Yourself

When the student is ready the teacher will appear. — Buddha

Once you have crossed amateur level make sure you move ahead and seek some professional help through appropriate coaching or education. Explore the subject in details and depths to improve your understanding.

Do Deliberate Practice

Set a routine for practice. Dedicate some time for trying and learning new ideas on the subject.

Learning new skills faster and better — that itself is a tough skill to master.

Throw away all present prejudices about what you can learn and what you can’t. Learning methods like chunking, grouping, recalling and interleaving should be used.

Go Deep

How to learn something deep should not be that difficult if you have the right learning strategy. Researchers have found that we have two fundamentally different modes of thinking.

  • Focused Mode
  • Diffused Mode

Use focus mode of learning — Learn key things about the new subject that you are trying to understand — then relax and let your mind run free going back into diffused mode … and then again into focused mode so that new connections can be made strong

So this works especially with something that is more difficult, your mind should be able to go back and forth between the two learning modes. That’s what helps you learn effectively and it stays longer

Lifelong Learning

From an early age, we are all instructed, that learning is all about educational education that you pick up from schools, colleges and institutions. But one has to pursue further opportunities to learn variety of skills throughout one’s life.

Your survival in today’s economy depends on how you pick up new knowledge, how you fit learning into everyday habits, and how you plan a unique career avenue for yourself.

You could have multiple careers or keep learning new market relevant skills to make your career future-proof but be warned that to keep up with the phenomenal explosion of knowledge and technological developments you need to learn how to swiftly pick up a new skill, then pick another one and keep learning throughout your life.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn — Alvin Toffler
A single fixed identity is a liability today, once you master variety of subjects you need to create a plan to synergize your multiple identities and give it a fresh look.

How you synergize your career, hobbies and dreams — and make those small but relevant changes in your life everyday — will make your life satisfying in a long run.