Applying Shoshin — Everyone Is My Teacher
I have read hundreds of books, gone to tons of workshops and seminars, had amazing coaches and mentors. I’ve been to college and worked in sales, marketing, and operations for years. I’ve lived in South America, Europe, and Asia, and traveled extensively, so that I’ve been exposed to many cultures. I’ve learned from shamans and medicine men. I’ve participated in plant medicine ceremonies. I’ve taught lots of courses and coached lots of clients. I’ve learned a ton.
I’ve also let go of a lot of things that I’ve learned because it no longer serves me, or I’ve learned a better way.
The tighter we attach to something that we think we know, the less able we are to learn new things. Our brain will automatically disregard things that don’t align with our current belief system. This is called confirmation bias. In essence, the more we think we know, the less we are able to learn new information.
One of the things that I believe has helped me the most in learning and growing is adopting the concept of SHOSHIN, or the beginner’s mind, when having conversations with other people or when learning new things. Here are some highlights of what shoshin is:
- It’s laying everything I know aside and looking at things with the curiosity of a child.
- It’s being present in a conversation.
- It’s asking powerful questions so that I receive powerful answers.
- It’s recognizing the infinite value that the other person has.
- It’s letting go of judgment.
- It’s appreciating a completely different point of view.
When we practice shoshin, we don’t compare new information with the information we already have. We don’t make something wrong just because it doesn’t align with our current belief system. We evaluate the new information with ‘new eyes’. It’s amazing how much more we can learn taking this approach.
I remember years ago when my oldest son was about 8 years old. One of the bathrooms was flooding. I quickly grabbed a cup that was nearby and started scooping water from the floor into the tub. I asked my son to grab something out of the kitchen to help me clean up the water. He came back with a dustpan which was a much better solution than the cup I was using. He didn’t have any preconception about what to grab, so he grabbed what he thought would be best. I learned a lesson from him that day.
Some of the things that I’ve learned by practicing shoshin include:
- The more we express childlike qualities like curiosity and play, the more open we are to learning and growing.
- Even though we’re all on this planet having a human experience, each person is living in their own reality with their unique experience.
- Each person has their own individual path. I notice that if I start to judge another person on the way they are living their life, it’s because I’m trying to impose my path onto theirs, thinking that mine is better, which it isn’t. It’s only different.
- We can learn from other people’s experience, no matter what it is. Sometimes, we learn things we can do to improve our lives. Sometimes, we learn things we can avoid.
- I can learn a better way. There may be something that I’m doing in my life because it is the only way I’ve learned. By being open to learning another way, I improve my quality of life.
- For the most part, there is no right or wrong way of doing things. There are different ways.
- Even though we are all having our own unique experiences during our lives, we all have the same basic needs and desires. We all want to matter.
- My way is not better nor worse. Just different.
- If there’s something that I’m not liking about another person, it’s probably a mirror of something I get to work on about myself.
As I’ve practiced shoshin, it has also given me a greater appreciation for my six-year-old daughter, and for the way that she looks at life. It has also helped me realize that the people that hold on tightly to what they believe they know usually know less than we give them credit for. It has also taught me that everyone is my teacher in one way or another, if I keep myself open and teachable.