Finding Hope in the Promise of Beginner’s Mind

Pete Sena
5 min readMar 25, 2020

There is no question that we are living in unprecedented times. Those of us who are lucky enough to have business that can be done from home are doing all we can to keep our heads down and continue to move things forward. Many of us don’t or won’t have that option for much longer. For all of us, the task of starting fresh is daunting and overwhelming, to say the least.

I’d like to help on that note, without joining the pile-up of positivity pushers that are chiming in with pithy advice that’s ringing less and less true with each passing day. This is more where I’m at these days (and what a difference a week makes in the face of COVID-19):

While a positive mindset is helpful, it’s not always realistic. But there is one mindset that we will naturally find ourselves in when we’re finally able to return to full-capacity work: the Zen concept of Shoshin, or Beginner’s Mind. To me, there is no stronger driver of growth than a mindset that’s entirely free of preconceptions.

Take, for example, Steve Jobs, who was known not only for his industry-shattering innovations but also for his spiritual side and devotion to Buddhism. Shunryu Suzuki’s classic book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, was one of Jobs’ go-to business/life guidebooks. It made a definite impact on his ability to focus and create (if not his willingness to live by other Zen ideals, like humility or compassion).

So let’s start at the beginning and see how and why emptying your mind of previous knowledge is a great way to start moving forward again towards future success.

Getting started with Shoshin

I learned about Shoshin through meditation. Unlike Jobs, my entree to exploring mind-clearing concepts was through apps like Headspace and Calm. (On second thought, maybe thanks to Jobs, as he both innovated apps and helped popularized Zen Buddhism in the US.)

Because design thinking has so much to do with getting out of the way of your preconceived notions and directing your focus on…

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Pete Sena

I help founder-led businesses design demand 📈 ⚡️3X Founder / Operator / Investor | Ready to design demand for your brand? 👇 linktr.ee/Petesena