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Shoshin: A Remarkable Zen Concept Used to Let Go of Old Assumptions

The danger of expertise

As you grow in knowledge and expertise, your mind becomes more closed. 

You tend to deny the information that disagrees with what you already know and yield to the information that confirms your current point of view.

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Shoshin: A Remarkable Zen Concept Used to Let Go of Old Assumptions

Shoshin: A Remarkable Zen Concept Used to Let Go of Old Assumptions

https://jamesclear.com/shoshin

jamesclear.com

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Key Ideas

Shoshin: The beginner’s mind

This a Zen Buddhism concept that refers to the idea of letting go of your preconceptions and having an attitude of openness when studying a subject.

James Clear

James Clear

"When you are a true beginner, your mind is empty and open. You're willing to learn and consider all pieces of information, like a child discovering something for the first time."

The danger of expertise

As you grow in knowledge and expertise, your mind becomes more closed. 

You tend to deny the information that disagrees with what you already know and yield to the information that confirms your current point of view.

Rediscover your beginner’s mind

  • Let go of the need to always contribute. Step back every now and then and just observe and listen.
  • Let go of the need to win every argument.  Letting go of the need to prove a point opens up the possibility for you to learn something new.
  • 'Tell me more about that': Stay quiet and pour all of your energy into listening to someone else.

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  • Present: Talk a little bit about what your current role is, the scope of it, and possibly a recent achievement.
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This is an opportunity to articulate why you’re interested and how your objective fulfills their goals. In order to do that, spend some time researching the company. If your answers resonate with them, it shows that you really understand the role.

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A beginner’s mind

It means dropping our expectations and preconceived ideas about something, and seeing things with an open mind, fresh eyes, just like a beginner.

Benefits of a beginner's mind
  • Better experiences: You aren’t clouded by prejudgments or preconceptions about how things should be.
  • Better relationships: You can see people with fresh eyes and notice that they’re just trying to be happy, instead of being annoyed by them.
  • Less procrastination: Be curious about what the task will be like. 
  • Less anxiety: Instead of worrying about what might happen, you can open yourself up to being curious about what will happen.
A form of meditation

Beginner’s mind is a form of meditation. Instead of sitting in meditation and thinking you know what your breath will be like, or the present moment in front of you will be like, just pay attention. 

See everything with fresh eyes. Drop your preconceived ideas and just look clearly at what’s in front of you.

Not fitting in
Not fitting in

Some people credit their creative successes to being loners or rebels.

Research conducted discovered that rejection and creativity were related, but only when participants had an independ...

Circumstances that promote creativity
  • Creative types of people, such as artists and writers, are more likely to be considered "odd or peculiar" as children.
  • Being considered "weird" in your culture can also raise an element of creativity called integrative complexity. Outsiders are less concerned with what the in-crowd thinks, so have more leeway to experiment. They are freer to innovate and change social norms.
  • Unusual experiences may boost creativity. People often report having breakthroughs after extreme adventures that interferes with rules and expectations.
Dissenting viewpoints

Unusual viewpoints can boost the decision-making power of a broader group.

Experiments reveal that people are more willing to conform when they are in a group for fear of being seen as peculiar. However, when someone is willing to stand out, the dissenter appears to give the others permission to disagree.