“The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner’s humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step.” – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I enjoy some customers more than others. There’s a quality that all my darlings share, whether it’s in my work as a Phraseologist or as a dance teacher: they are eternal beginners.
This is not to say that I don’t want to see progress. I desperately need to see progress in anything I commit to – myself, a client, a student. Being an eternal beginner is not about staying in one place, but rather about having a mindset for endless discovery.
One’s long-term success is in direct proportion to one’s excellence at being a beginner.
Bright flames that burn fast
Often, a new student wants to skip the beginner phase. They feel embarrassed to be in a “Beginner” class. They beg to be fast-tracked because they “learn quickly”. They ask, “How long until I’m good at this?” They focus on competitive accolades more than being present in the process to achieve them. Some may reach a modicum of success using those tactics; but, as their teacher, it’s difficult to become invested because I know they won’t be around for long. Their bright flames burn fast.
As a marketer, I was often frustrated by clients who wanted everything “done” in a month or two – more clicks, new messaging, a brand, a website. It was difficult to become invested in those that had no patience for the groundwork that would ensure longevity. Their impatience was typically characterized by a history of costly and time-consuming churn.
Beginners are learners
I love being a learner. As experienced or accomplished as I may be in my crafts and professions, success only leads me to new challenges. Goals keep me moving forward, but process is more interesting. Pushing myself into vulnerability when I feel confident, punching holes in my beliefs and abilities, keeps me engaged.
When we deny ourselves the vulnerability and frustrations of the early stages of new undertakings, we deny ourselves (and our businesses) the lessons and strength-building required for endurance.
The qualities of individuals and leaders who have the patience required to endure include an enthusiastic sense of discovery, curiosity, and humility.
How good are you at beginnings?
The more of these statements that feel True To You, the more likely you will experience longevity in what you choose to do:
- You stay motivated without external goals and measures.
- You commit to new activities without competitive motivation.
- You enjoy the process of discovery.
- You’re curious rather than dismissive of new ideas that challenge your beliefs.
- You love investing time and energy in building foundations.
- You’re patient with yourself and satisfied as long as YOU can detect progress.
- Setbacks motivate you to do better, get stronger.
- When you find something you like, you tend to stick with it for the long-haul.