The Smart Person Knows They Are Always Beginning

Fools think they've arrived

I’m not going to sugarcoat this one: if you think you know it all, you’re an idiot.

If you think you have nothing left to learn, no one can help you – and that’s a sad and lonely place to be. Closed minds are the source of much trouble in this world.

But if you’re the smart person? You have an open mind, a curious mind, a questioning mind. You might be eaten up inside by the possibility that you could be wrong, could be mistaken, could be missing a fact or a point or a pertinent piece of information.

A definitive lack of surety can be a good sign. When you feel it, probe that thought. Why are you unsure? If it’s not a confidence thing, then you might be onto something.

What Is Smart?

Now, keep in mind that when I say “smart” I’m not talking about IQ or some sort of measurement the world has put on you. We all know many folks who this world has judged as unintelligent while they were anything but. Case in point: Bruce Springsteen. And there are many others. That might even be you.

So don’t get caught up in your degrees (or lack of them) or your grades or external measurements – yours or anybody else’s. But do get caught up in opening your mind.

What Smart Folks Are Always Doing

So if you’ve got a brain in your head and you’re not positive that you’re right, you’re my kind of person. And here’s something you may or may not know: you’re always beginning.

Why? Because we all are beginning in some way, every day, every hour, every minute.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: we are all connected and all we have is this moment. Right here, right now.

So get ready to begin.

Because no matter how old or skilled or accomplished or moneyed you are, life is going to throw curveballs at you. That’s life’s job. Just when you think everything is going great, life will fuck you up in a heartbeat.

And woe to you if you don’t know how to begin again.

The Key to Beginning (And Beginning Again)

But whether you’re beginning or beginning again, a good posture is the same: keep your mind open and act like everything is new to you.

  • See with new eyes

  • Listen with new ears

  • Touch with new hands

This is the time to say “I don’t understand” a lot. Say it often. Say it repeatedly. I have a dear friend who speaks seven languages and she says “I don’t understand” more than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s not a dummy. She figured out that the most useful phrase in every language is “I don’t understand” because it’s the quickest route to clarity.

So get on the quickest route to clarity. The price of admission is your ego. Make it a little smaller today and adopt a learning posture. Begin. Or begin again. No matter where you want to go next, there’s something you need to learn to get there. Success is over the bridge from beginning but you’re going to have to cross and recross that bridge many, many times. Rejoice. You are on your way.

Subscribers: We’ll talk more about the finer points of adopting a Beginner’s Mindset in Wednesday’s post and then follow up with an audio post and resource links on Friday.