In Zen Buddhism, “Shosin” is the word used to refer to “Beginner’s Mind”.
Why do practicing monks need to master it?
Because having a beginner’s mind is key to truly understanding a subject without any preconceptions and bias – it gives way to a mindset of openness and eagerness needed to guide them on their quest for meaning.
Zen has no goal, it is traveling without point, with nowhere to go. To travel is to be alive, but to arrive is to be dead. A world which focuses on destinations, which only cares about getting somewhere as fast as possible, becomes a world without substance. – Alan Watts
In today’s hyper-connected world everyone has an opinion, a personal worldview, an ideology that we’ve firmly held unto since the day we were born.
You see friends and kin argue all the time about certain issues in social media. It’s “your-belief-against-mine” mentality.
But if you think really hard about it, it is quite understandable, really.
It’s normal to have an opinion about something simply because it’s the one that seems to make the most sense from our personal standpoint.
Unfortunately, sometimes these personal worldviews and opinions tend to serve as shackles that bind us unendingly to a single belief.
Preventing us from realizing what lies on the other side.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
For example, some parents push their kids to get normal, stable jobs. They think it’s the best way to earn a living mainly because it’s what worked for them, and probably with their own parents too.
But while the normal 9-5 employee life has its advantages, successful business owners will argue that threading the entrepreneurial road presents the most profitable and fulfilling way of earning an income.
So which is right? The answer, my dear friend, depends on your own worldview.
If you are someone who grew up with parents and siblings proudly living the professional life, you’ll most likely thread that path as well. It’s the one that makes the most sense from your standpoint.
On the other side of the coin are business-minded people who will most likely influence their kids to manage the family’s business or even open up their own, just like Ma and Pa.
Your answer might seem right to you but the same answer won’t make sense to someone with an opposing worldview.
Ultimately, there is no right answer. Only our personal opinion.
A Moment of Clarity
Sometimes we’ll come across a person, an idea, or experience that shatters through our worldview with so much force that it leaves us questioning our old beliefs.
It unseats deep-rooted mindsets the same way a typhoon pulls trees along its path. After it passes, the view is never the same again. You start questioning your ideologies.
You start doubting your previous actions. Suddenly, you feel vulnerable.
Should you be afraid?
No. Instead, be ready. You’ve been given a key to unlock your Shosin – your beginner’s mind.
From this point on, it’s all about recognizing all possible worldviews and mindsets.
Acknowledge each one and see if you can use it. Sift through the choices and pick the ones you think will have a positive impact in your life.
As George Bernard Shaw once said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
So what’s the mindset for success, you ask?
Here’s our very own list of worldviews of what it takes to succeed, most of which are based on some of the top business books we recommended here.
Take your pick, use these as tools to improve and make progress in your own journey to success.
1. When Deciding On What to Prioritize – An Essentialist’s Mindset
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will”, wrote Greg McKeown in his bestselling book, “Essentialism”.
At the center of an Essentialist’s worldview is a person taking charge of his life.
Not merely reacting to events that life throws at him, he takes life by the reins and wills it to the direction he chooses.
How can we do it?
People and activities that make us truly happy. It’s living with intent, searching for the signal amidst all the noise.
When Steve Jobs returned to Apple after being booted out by its board members, he ruthlessly cut the product line up from 350 to 10.
This quote from Steve pretty much captures the logic behind his decision, “You’d think focus is about saying yes, but it actually means saying no.”
2. When You Need Motivation – A Marine Corps Mindset
Some days we really just feel like laying in bed. No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t make yourself to get up. According to Charles Duhigg, who wrote, “Smarter Faster Better”,
“Motivation becomes easier when we transform a chore into a choice. It gives us a sense of control.”
How does this work, exactly?
Duhigg says that the secret is to tie your tasks to your goals and dreams. In the book, he argues that “Self-motivation becomes easier when we see our choices as affirmations of our deeper values and goals.”
To motivate yourself, start by asking this question: “Why do I have to do this?”
Marine Corps recruits who get subjected to an endless amount of training and physical torture yell these at each other whenever they feel like giving up:
- “Why are you here?”
- “Why are you doing this to yourself?”
- “Why are you missing the birth of your daughter?”
- “Why are you risking your life?”
Each “why” is a wake-up call. A slap to the face when they’re losing momentum.
It forces the Marine to answer and remember that this hurdle is merely a step towards his goal: To defend his country.
No matter what path we choose, we should find a connection between the “small steps” and our goals and dreams.
3. When You Need to Set Goals – A Manager’s Mindset
In the 1980’s, the S.M.A.R.T system of goal setting was born.
It was derived mainly from General Electric’s (GE) formalized goal setting model whein GE employees where required to write a letter to his or her manager explaining what their goals are for the next time frame and how they were going to achieve it.
With SMART, goals are expected to be: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and has a Timeline.
While this system effectively identified, executed, and tracked the goals on a day-to-day level, GE found that some of their divisions weren’t reaping the benefits of this system.
They soon found out that SMART systems only take care one part of the equation. SMART goals tend to cause a person to focus on clearing tasks for immediate results.
A mindset where clearing your to-do list is the most important thing – not asking yourself if it aligns with your ultimate goal and target in the first place.
Before you implement SMART goal, you should set a “Stretch Goal” first. A Stretch Goal embodies your biggest targets and aspirations.
For example, “To have a small business on the side” is a Stretch goal.
The SMART objectives will then break the goal down into specific subgoals that you can execute on a daily basis.
This ensures that each task you do is an inch closer towards achieving your goal.
4. When You Need to Focus – John Wick’s Mindset
My favorite line in the movie John Wick was:
“John is a man of focus, commitment, sheer will… something you know very little about. I once saw him kill three men in a bar… with a pencil, with a f***** pencil.”
After getting beaten down and having his dog killed, all his next actions were focused on a singular task: Kill the man who killed his dog. Nothing else was important.
And while my jaw dropped after seeing his pencil-stabbing skills on the sequel, to me John Wick’s greatest strength was his focus. To stay committed to finishing a task, no matter what it takes.
In real life, there are tons of ways to help you improve focus. Here are some of the most popular examples:
In addition to the list above, Duhigg (Smarter, Faster, Better book) points out that the secret to focusing is to envision what you want to happen.
If you write down your day like each “scene” in a story, you’ll be able to nail down each task with accuracy.
Let’s say you want to build your own blog over the weekend (Stretch Goal).
After laying down your SMART objectives for this goal (e.g register a domain name, decide on a web host, pick a theme, have the website running by Sunday night, etc.,), you should then proceed to writing your script for that day.
Ultimately, it’s planning out your day and blocking distractions to make sure each action is tied to your target.
5. When Facing Challenges – A Stoic’s Mindset
When facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, Stoics advise that we do the following:
- Focus on what can be controlled.
- Control our emotions and stay poised.
- Turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, and tougher.
They were famous for their belief that it is our perception of things that cause most of our trouble. By accepting the things that we can and cannot change, we free ourselves from being stuck.
Based on personal experience, I learned that most times being stuck is only a temporary condition. It’s up to us to look harder for another angle, another way to solve the problem.
And we should never wish to not experience stress and challenges in life. When we visit the gym and lift weights, we subject our muscles to varying levels of stress.
With each lift you feel the burn. Each push, a struggle.
But why are you doing it in the first place?
Because only through stress do our muscles grow. It tears old and weak tissue and grows new ones that will be capable of lifting heavier weights.
6. When Trying to Improve Your Craft – A Growth Mindset
I was never a fan of Kobe Bryant when he was still playing. I found him to be too much of a ball hog, to be honest.
However, there is no other NBA player that I think of that can match Kobe’s dedication when it comes to improving his game.
The guy was relentless.
When he was in high school, he used to show up for practice at 5AM. When he was became a Laker at 18, former coach Byron Scott said he once saw Bryant practicing shots in the dark.
The reason it was dark? He was two hours early to practice. Dwayne Wade recalls a story when they were in Las Vegas to practice for the 2008 Olympics.
While they were just getting off bed and having breakfast at 8AM, Kobe walks in, drenched in sweat. He has been practicing for 3 hours.
On the book, Michael Jordan: The Life, author Roland Lazerby says that “His Airness” considers the Black Mamba as the only player ever to come near his work ethic.
So what does this all mean?
These stories teach us that even the greats never stop pushing, grinding, practicing, and looking for ways to improve their craft.
Even with all his accomplishments, Kobe believed that mastery is a moving target. One must not stop putting efforts and showing up to do the work.
We hope you find the stuff we wrote here useful. Mindsets are powerful mental models that serve as frameworks that guide us in making better decisions.
Use them as tools to help you reach your goals much faster.