I began homeschooling my children when they were in second and fifth grades. Both were excellent students and I was eager to shepherd them along in their learning journey. So I was shocked that neither of them had a good foundation in math and struggled with basic arithmetic. We went back to basics and spent much of the first year working with flash cards until addition, subtraction, multiplication and division became easy. With that strong foundation in place, concepts in more advanced math became easy.
In my business, the idea of going back to basics was reinforced when I watched a webinar for Camtasia (my video editing software). I was shocked to learn that there were many shortcuts available that would speed up my video editing, as well as several new helpful tools and features. I realized that it’s time to go back to basics and take a dive into their training materials, even though I’ve been limping along with my self-taught methods.
I think most of us hesitate to go back to basics because it feels like a waste of time. Yet sometimes that’s precisely what we need to do. Often this approach will give us a fresh perspective and renewed enthusiasm for our pursuits.
The Beginner’s Mind
Zen Buddhism teaches a concept called shoshin – meaning beginner’s mind. Shoshin refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would. (Source)
If you’ve been in business for some time, you’ve got much of your business figured out. But I bet there are still many areas for improvement. Here’s how to cultivate a beginner’s mind in your business:
- Go back to the basics. The more you know, the easier it is to get overwhelmed and over-complicate things. For instance, there are thousands of time management apps, systems, and planners to help organize your life. Step back and ask yourself if there is a simpler solution. It might be that creating a “To Do” list with pen and paper is easier and effective than your current system.
- Ask for input. Put on your humility hat and invite people to offer input. I recently surveyed my members about their experiences and any additional features that would be welcome. It was clear that people wanted more opportunities for accountability. Their input is helping me to help the Solopreneur Academy better service our members.
- Make learning a priority. One big advantage following the pandemic is that there are so many learning opportunities online – including conferences that may have previously been too expensive or difficult to attend. Schedule learning time into your week. Don’t be afraid to read books or attend events that you deem “too basic” as they might be exactly what you need.
- Question your assumptions. Many businesses, including the Solopreneur Academy, offer live events via Zoom. This is by far the most stressful part of my business as my Internet connection seems to fail at the exact moment of the call. I notice that many businesses, including mine, ae re-thinking our assumptions about the need for live calls. I have found that pre-recording educational events is far less stressful for me and offers members the same benefits.
- Sharpen your tools. I am not a person who enjoys reading documentation or following “get started” videos. As a result, I can competently use tools such as Camtasia, WordPress and my accounting software, but I could be doing so much more efficiently. For me, taking a class can provide structure and accountability needed to ensure that I increase my skills.
- Step outside your comfort zone. Trying something new wakes your brain up to fresh possibilities. I’ve been quilting for more than a decade and have purchased a lot of fabric. When I took an online quilting class, the instructors shared their approach to choosing fabric. Rather than buying quilt fabrics in a single, matching collection (which I do), they mix and match fabrics based on the scale of the print and the intensity of the color. This approach was very different than my current method of selecting fabric — and made me pretty uncomfortable in the beginning. The stretch was worth it, as I recognize more uses for the fabrics that I own and became much more comfortable designing quilts.
- Have fun. One way to go back to basics is to have fun! Enjoy some of your childhood experiences such as building a sandcastle or coloring with crayons. Not only is this fun, it allows your ideas to percolate and reminds you that life doesn’t have to be 100 percent serious. My family recently adopted a one-year-old beagle puppy. Her life is all about fun! She does not have pre-conceived notions for household items and approaches everything with a beginner’s mind. Her favorite toys are my shoes and a cloth grocery bag. She views furniture as a chew toy and our baby gates as a personal challenge.