The Importance of Being a Beginner (and Leveraging Superpowers)

Written by Scott December 28, 2010

Written by Scott Dinsmore – Follow me on Twitter.

The Importance of Being a Beginner

“All glory comes from daring to begin.”

~ Eugene F. Ware

Last week I took a Hip Hop class and a surfing lesson. It was my first ever of the former and had been years since the latter. I felt about as coordinated as a monkey in boxing gloves, trying to peel a banana.

It was awkward. It was humbling. It was brilliant.

I was a beginner and I loved it.

The world needs more beginners. It’s time to take action!

When was the last time you did something for the very first time? For most of us, it’s not often enough.

Why is it that the world seems to avoid new things at all cost? When given the choice between doing what we’ve done before and trying something for the first time, we default to what’s comfortable. But where’s the fun in that? If you don’t try, you’ll never know. I propose we put an end to it, and we all commit to being new at something. With 2011 upon us, the timing’s perfect.

It’s ok to not be the best at something.

In fact there’s huge power in being a beginner. Here are a few:

  • Keeps you humble
  • Gets you out of your comfort zone
  • Removes expectation or comparison
  • Connects you with people on a new level – gives a window into their world
  • Gives you a chance to find something that lights your heart on fire

Why are we so scared to be beginners?

We all have the things we’re good at. Either we’ve done them for years or they come naturally. We tend to spend the majority of our time on these. In most instances this is a fine thing.

But what happens when you get relatively good at a job you hate? It’s easy. You’re comfortable. And as a result you never take the plunge to experience the real juice of life.

This fear of being new can keep us from the richest aspects of living. It can keep us from our soulmate as we stay in our comfortable relationship, it can keep us pounding the keyboard when we have an idea that the world needs built, and it can keep us on the couch when our bodies capable of running across town.

It’s ok to be a beginner –  but be sure to leverage your Superpowers.

Realize that your current natural skills and talents (which I like to call Superpowers, as mentioned in The Beginner’s Guide to Being Congruent) are transferrable in more ways than you think. Maybe you stay in your sales job because you’re great at building rapport, relating to people’s needs and closing deals, but you happen to be selling snake oil and you hate it. Then get out and be a beginner with a new product. Or even better, create your own product and apply your natural magic.

A new activity doesn’t need to require new skills.

I was recently working with a reader who was starting to realize she was losing her passion as a school teacher. She loved the teaching but hated the beauracracy and BS that came with it. This made her feel guilty.

Then we started to brainstorm. She had the biggest part figured out. She was a kick-ass teacher and there was nothing more exciting to her than educating. To know this in your mid twenties is huge – we should all be so lucky.

This was a killer start. Then we began to think through where else these Superpowers could be useful. The ideas began to flow – There’s for profit education, private tutoring, corporate training. The list goes on. Maybe she’d rather start up her own advanced tutoring business. Talk about a low risk endeavor and she already had the assets to be a rockstar at it.

Who knows what she’ll decide. The point is you can be new at a role, career, job, sport or hobby but be an expert at the underlying skills required to experience success.

Focus on your Strengths – just find a new application.

I am the last one to suggest you spend all your time working on your weaknesses. Weakness are important to improve only to the point where they allow you to function in society. Past that, all one’s energy related to improvement and education should be dedicated to further mastering your natural Superpowers. Tom Rath will pound you over the head with this in his Strengths Finder 2.0–a required read for anyone truly in search of freedom.

Being a beginner doesn’t mean you don’t focus on your strengths. It’s simply a new application of your core.

Embrace being a Beginner – Just like when Steve Jobs was fired.

Steve jobs, in his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech recalls one of the most character-building experiences of his life. It was the mid 80’s and he was fired from Apple Computer – yes, the company he started in 1976. After the drama, he had no choice but to be a beginner.

Surprisingly, Jobs recalls it as an unbelievably refreshing and inspiring life chapter – To have no expectations and just to go forward and create. He went on to build two more business successes in Pixar and NeXT (which eventually sold for $7.4b and $429m respectively). NeXT was later bought by Apple at which point he returned as CEO.

Spend 15 minutes with his speech. Whether you’ve seen it or not, it’s worth another watch. I keep it on my iPhone and watch it monthly (a little ironic, I know).

Dreams start at the beginning.

Every dream that saw a glimpse of daylight, before anything else, had to begin. The start is never glamorous. You’ll fumble, you’ll be ridiculed, you’ll doubt yourself, you’ll try to rationalize why you should put it off. That’s why most dreams stay dreams. The fear of beginning is too great.

This first step is the most important step of even the most epic journeys and experiences. Without it, not a damn thing will happen.

But once you start, amazing things begin to occur. The first step feels like trudging through partially dried cement, but the next feels a little lighter and after a few strides you feel like you’re sprinting barefoot down the beach. Momentum is a powerful (and nearly unstoppable) thing. But something must first be moving to harness it.

I’ve experience this in everything I’ve started and stuck with, from barefoot ultramarathons, to my investment partnership, this website back when my mom was the only subscriber, my Personal Freedom Coaching and my 5 years of long distance that finally lead to marrying the love of my life.

Every new beginning reminds me why it is so crucial to keep trying.

If you had dreams of doing great things, or doing anything at all, you better get comfortable with being a beginner. As an entrepreneur I’ve embraced it. I’ve learned to thrive off of the uncertainty.

There’s one thing that’s certain: If you never try anything, you’ll never experience greatness.

It’s not a coincidence that this comes right as we’re about to kick off a new year. There’s no better time to channel massive momentum. Now is all of our time to be a beginner. It always is.

I like to pick at least a few things each year to give a crack at. I usually stick to ones related to my businesses or physical and mental growth activities.

A few things I plan to be new to next year (stay tuned for a full list in a few weeks):

  • Surfing
  • Simplifying
  • Triathlons
  • Creating a knock-out course/guide to help my readers live on their terms

How to be a beginner in 2011. An uber-simple process.

1. Know your Superpowers. Think of what you’re freakin awesome at. What skills allow that? What do you love to do naturally? Public speaking, crunching numbers, counseling others, doing deals, making friends, writing a million lines of code? Strengths Finder 2.0 is a killer shortcut for this.

2. Pick your focus. What have you always wanted to start? Ideally pick something you believe will add fulfillment and enjoyment to life (is there any other reason to do something anyway?). A side business, a new career or a new relationship. It should truly move the needle. And for fun also choose something totally off the wall (hip hop 101 anyone?).

3. Create a bunch of tiny steps. Chunk your new focus down into really basic and manageable tasks. This makes getting things underway a lot less stressful. If you want to start a new career then the first little step may be making a list of 5 people you can talk to in your new space. Then set up meetings with them. And so on. If it seems easy, we’ll start, if it seems too hard, we won’t.

4. Begin! This is the hardest part, but all it takes is two seconds to say “that’s it”, “never again” or “let’s begin”. Those words, spoken with enough meaning and emotion, can change your world. Take the two seconds, and then another five minutes to complete your first task. You’ll never experience the magic if you don’t start.

5. Let the momentum rip. It quickly becomes unstoppable.

There is no waiting.

What you do today turns into how you spend your life. Do you want to spend today putting off what you know will ignite a bonfire of passion? If you forgo the new and exciting today, that will likely be the story of your life.

Do you know the most dangerous word in the world? Later. It’s a euphemism for never. Get over the fear of not knowing how to do something or failing or being new. That’s all going to happen anyway. Might as well charge it head on. Without those ‘risks’, magnificent things can’t happen.

The beginnning is where it starts. So naturally, I’ll see you there.

What new path have you been putting off? What will you vow to be a beginner at in the new year? Tell us in comments because that’s what creates accountability.

And please take 2 seconds to share this on Twitter or Facebook. The world needs more beginners!

Photo courtesy of saipal

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