A Beginner’s Mindset

September 26, 2023

By Marlena Batchelor

As a CEO you may be a steadying influence on your teams and have a handle on understanding how your business makes money, but it’s your approach to each of these areas that delivers real value.

A centuries-old simple concept in Zen Buddhism defines the principles C-suite leaders are using to get those creative juices flowing again – and it’s advocated for by business mogul Marc Benioff and countless others who are waking up to the power of cultivating an open mind.

The Salesforce CEO attributes the company’s success to its annual shoshin practice of beginning every year with a blank slate and five critical questions to set the agenda for the year ahead. He believes that the ‘beginner’s mind’ is very much synonymous with the post-pandemic world. This works by orchestrating the right conditions and mindset for disruptive thinking.

“There’s something truly magical that happens when leaders are courageous enough to embrace a beginner’s mindset.”

– Dan McGowan

The word shoshin, meaning ‘beginner’s mind’, wove its way into the West through Shunryū Suzuki’s 1970s book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. Since then, practicing the concept in a business environment is an antidote to close-mindedness and a lack of growth. “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt and open to all the possibilities,” Suzuki wrote in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

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