What will a ‘beginner’ teach you today?

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few. That is the real secret of the arts, always be a beginner”
Shunryu Suzuki – Zen mind, Beginner’s mind

I was reminded of this quote during the recent holidays whilst playing chess with my children. Our eldest (aged 13) has played for a few years now and we enjoy an occasional game; this year however, our 10 and 8yr olds also decided they wanted to play. It struck me how hard it is to play against a complete beginner. My younger children didn’t understand how to ‘properly’ develop a game and they made moves which didn’t ‘make sense’. Some of these random moves resulted in confident, glaring errors from me! The first game between my 8yr old daughter and I took nearly 40 minutes to ‘win’ – I lost important pieces and we very nearly ended up drawing the game! I’m no Gary Kasparov – indeed, I’m not really much more than a beginner myself – but my adult, ‘expert’ mindset was limiting and the experience drove a good message home.

As ‘experts’ we can often be blinkered to possibility. When was the last time you delivered (or were truly receptive to) the perspective of the beginner? Are you open to possibility? To learning as a shared experience? If not, then perhaps these are thoughts to ponder?

What will a ‘beginner’ teach you today?

PS: We played “Connect 4” as well. In a ‘best of 5’ tournament I lost to each of my children – I got properly, soundly whooped! How wonderful to learn such valuable lessons from them – I hope they teach me many more things in the years to come.

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2 responses to “What will a ‘beginner’ teach you today?

  1. Great points – it sometimes takes a completely fresh idea to maje us re-think our ” game” ! Doesn’t matter if it’s chess with the kids or professionally. Well put!

  2. Sounds like a wisp of Satori? To search for the beginner’s mind… like riding your bike, in search of your bike? N’est pas comrade?

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