The Beginners Mindset: Adopt a Childlike Wonder
April 28, 2023

So, you’ve heard all about the growth mindset, right? Well, get ready to have your mind blown, because there’s a new sheriff in town – the beginner’s mindset! And let me tell you, it’s a game changer, especially for business leaders.

Now, we all know that as adults, we tend to put a ton of pressure on ourselves to achieve our goals. We don’t have time to mess around with learning for learning’s sake, right? Wrong! That’s where the beginner’s mindset comes in. By embracing curiosity, openness, and a willingness to learn, you can tap into that childlike sense of wonder and embark on a journey of lifelong learning.

Think about it – when you were a kid, you didn’t worry about being an expert or having all the answers. You just explored, discovered, and had fun. And that’s exactly what the beginner’s mindset is all about. By encouraging a curious, open and humble approach to learning, your organisation can break out of old habits, explore new ideas and expand horizons in ways you never thought possible. Moreover, by your workforce being less constrained by their existing knowledge and beliefs, your organisation can become more well-rounded, adaptable, and innovative.

So, my dear business friends, embrace your inner child and let the beginner’s mindset transform your organisation. Who knows, you might even have a little fun along the way. Gasp!


Beginners Mindset Encourages Innovation

Unsurprisingly, adopting a mindset of openness and curiosity does wonders for creativity and innovation. By approaching a problem or project with fresh eyes, individuals can bring new ideas and perspectives that can lead to innovative solutions. This is even more effective in a dialogue where everyone has a beginner’s mindset. Moreover, by putting previous knowledge and beliefs to one side, individuals may be able to see and experiment with new ideas, approaches and techniques that previously would not have been discussed. As the famous old saying goes ‘a mind is like a parachute – it functions only when it is open.’ A study within the Journal of Business Research supports this finding that encouraging a ‘beginner’s mindset’ among employees can help to foster creativity and innovation. More specifically, those who approach new situations with curiosity where more likely to generate novel ideas and solutions than those who approach the situation with a more closed-minded attitude. This arguably goes above and beyond the mere growth mindset, by directly incorporating the sense of curiosity and stripping back existing knowledge.

As Ted Lasso once said ‘I shouldn’t have brought an umbrella to a brainstorm.’

However, it is important that this mindset is focused and controlled appropriately. Whilst there is no evidence of any adverse effects associated with the beginners mindset, it’s important to remember that it can create an overemphasis on novelty. Always striving towards the unknown with the upmost curiosity could lead to a lack of expertise in any one area and too much focus on creation of ideas, too little on implementation. As business leaders are well aware, the great idea is only half the battle.


Beginners Mindset Promotes Continuous Learning

Building upon this, when a beginners mindset is widely encouraged and adopted across an organisation, this can create a culture of continuous learning. It is somewhat intuitive that if every member of an organisation is curious, open and willing to learn, this will inherently change the culture. The attributes of the beginner’s mindset fit the attributes of a continuous learning culture perfectly. The impact of a culture of continuous learning is huge and essential to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment. Deloitte’s found that continuous learning firms are 46% more likely to be first to market, experiencing higher productivity and 92% more likely to innovate.

The beginner mindset particularly aids with communication as demonstrated in a study published by the Journal of Applied Communication Research, which found those with beginner mindsets are more likely to engage in open and constructive communication, leading to better learning, relational development, and communication outcomes. Not only is communication improved, but also learning outcomes as illustrated by Richards (2019) where authors found individuals with beginners mindsets are more likely to engage in active learning behaviours, leading to better learning outcomes and improved performance. Evidently, this mindset’s impact on individuals and culture alike are substantial and wholly positive.


Beginners Mindset Increases Entrepreneurship

Similarly to innovation, entrepreneurship massively benefits from the beginner’s mindset. The general principle of curiosity encapsulates exactly how successful entrepreneurs view the world and helps with creativity in the same way described above. There have been two studies published that support this notion. Firstly, by Newbert & Craig in 2018 found that the beginner’s mindset can help entrepreneurs to navigate the uncertain and unpredictable nature of new ventures. Through the mindset of encouraging individuals to challenge themselves with the unknown, those embodying it can practice reacting and adapting in such circumstances. Secondly, Yang and Lichtenstein (2019) conducted a study specifically analysing the effects of the beginner’s mindset on venture performance. They found that those who adopted such a mindset were more likely to engage in exploratory and innovative behaviours, leading to improved venture performances. Given what was discussed above regarding innovation, these findings are hardly surprising.


So beginners or growth?

First of all, it’s important to accept that these two concepts are not mutually exclusive; in fact, it could be argued that a beginner’s mindset is actually just an extension of growth. The ideal mindset is likely dependent on the situation. A beginner’s mindset is particularly beneficial in circumstances with lots of uncertainty, ambiguity or complexity. The openness and curiosity of a beginner’s mindset help individuals in those circumstances approach ambiguity with a fresh perspective and avoid being held back by internal monologue, past experiences and preconceptions.

Whereas a growth mindset is based on the belief that our abilities and qualities can be developed and improved over time through learning, practice and, most importantly, failure. This mindset is, therefore, particularly valuable in situations where there are clear goals and a defined path towards achieving them. A growth mindset helps in that situation as setbacks and failures are seen as learning curves towards the achievable goal, whereas someone with a fixed mindset may perceive them as a sign to give up. The optimism and self-belief portrayed by the growth mindset help individuals overcome challenges and achieve goals. Both growth and beginner’s mindset have their place in the business world. Identifying which mindset is most pertinent in which situation and applying it effectively is the true mark of success.

Want to learn more about the best approach to organisational L&D, check out our blog on LMS.

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