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This week we're discussing the importance of always having a beginner mindset and always striving to learn more.
As a brief disclaimer: many links for items, books, etc. are done through affiliate links, which means I may get paid a small pittance of money for anything you purchase using these links.
The beginning stage of learning a new skill is a beautiful combination of discomfort, awkwardness, rapid learning, and forward progress. Assuming that you don't have an inherent ego problem, learning something new is a great opportunity to make mistakes often, gain helpful feedback, and drastically improve. The problem is that we, once we gain a little bit of knowledge and experience, tend to have far more confidence than skill.
Maintaining a beginner's mindset is the key to continued progress and improvement. You may be familiar with the phrase "knowing enough to be dangerous," but what exactly does this phrase mean? When it comes to knowledge and competence, the Dunning-Kruger Effect summarizes this spectrum of confidence versus knowledge.
Essentially, our confidence rapidly increases as we gain initial knowledge in any field. Since we are able to make rapid progress early on, we falsely believe that we know far more than we actually do. This is the "Mt. Stupid" zone of the above graph; we know enough to have high confidence, but our overall level of knowledge or skill is quite low.
Typically, we will encounter a challenge we can't overcome or make a huge mistake, propelling us into the "Valley of Despair" where we realize just how much we don't know. The humility gained from this experience allows us to slowly ascend the "Slope of Enlightenment" where we accumulate knowledge and expertise.
We can save ourselves an awful lot of pain by going into each situation assuming we don't have all the answers. It's difficult to admit that we may need help, or may not be able to solve the problem at hand, especially if it's in a field we've accumulated some experience in. The reality is we look much more foolish if we claim to know something that we don't.
Humility unlocks the potential for higher learning. Go into every situation like a beginner, not afraid to ask questions or admit that you simply don't know the answer. Aside from learning more and improving more rapidly than those stuck on Mt. Stupid, you'll also gain much more respect from your peers and superiors. Ask yourself, would you rather work with someone who claims to have the answer and messes things up, or with the person who says, "I don't know, but I will do everything I can to find out" when confronted with the unknown?
The most interesting things I've encountered this week:
What I'm reading: "On needing to find something to worry about" from the School of Life
A very short article that seems particularly appropriate for the modern world. Anxiety is at an all-time high, and I think a lot of us have difficulty actually settling down.
What I'm listening to: Ido Portal on the Huberman Lab Podcast
I was introduced to Ido Portal nearly a decade ago when I started prepping a client for one of his training programs. He can be a polarizing figure, but he has done more for the study of human movement than most practitioners in the field.
My new guide: Trainedwright Toughness Guide.pdf
For anyone who missed it last week, my new guide on building mental toughness and resilience is now available!
Quote of the week:
"When we utter those three dreaded words — I don’t know — our ego deflates, our mind opens, and our ears perk up." - Ozan Varol in Think Like a Rocket Scientist
That will do it for this week!
If you haven't downloaded your free copy yet, I've distilled all my tips and tricks for learning and retaining information here: Trainedwright Learning Guide.pdf
Lastly, as always, if you found any value in this week's newsletter, please share it with just one person who might like it!
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