Beginner’s Mind – Foundation of Mindfulness # 3

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

Shunryo Suzuki

Past experiences and preconceived ideas have great value when it comes to making decisions about everyday activities. However, they are tainted to the degree that we cannot absorb the new reality of the present time or the face value of an action, a discussion, or a situation. It is always comfortable to skim through the information to support and validate our previous experience; nevertheless, we tend to lose the possibility of learning a new way of doing things or transforming our ideas for the better by seeing things with fresh eyes.

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Art by Magritte – The Human Condition

Everybody knows that some things are simply impossible until somebody who doesn’t know that makes them possible. - Albert Einstein

The real problem starts when you are an expert, one who has more assumptions than questions. Fending off new ways of doing things or not being receptive to new ideas happens to the experienced. An apprehension swishes and contaminates the mind, which in turn will end up either with cherry-picking to justify the established rules and practices or simply dismissal of the new approach.

When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavour to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning. — Tracy Ochester.

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Art by Magritte – The treachery of images

A beginner’s mind is keen to meet a new person, have a fresh outlook on familiar people, or learn a new skill. Practicing beginners’ minds (or shoshin in Japanese Zen Buddhism) feeds a growth mindset. An outlook that refuses to have more of the same for the rest of its life knows well that the safety zone is not always the right place to be. It stales the mind and prevents you from growing and reaching your potential. By default, we prefer to stay in our comfort zone, yet adopting a growth mindset requires courage to embrace vulnerability and humility. To acknowledge that there is always a better way of doing things or when it comes to human relations, we give people the benefit of the doubt.

Ways to Cultivate a beginner’s mind

  • Adopt the notion that endless possibilities exist.
  • Switch off the autopilot mode. 
  • Be in the present moment.
  • Listen carefully when a familiar topic comes up; you don’t have to rush to express your opinion or add value; observe and ask questions like you didn’t know about the subject.
  • Explore something to re-experience the feelings; it can be basic as eating your meal or making your bed.
  • Stop labeling and notice that you are on auto judgment – Ask yourself why you consider things as bad, good, right, or wrong? Is it out of habit? Integrate seeing things in your life as they are!
  • Learn a new activity to integrate challenges to your comfort zone
  • Mingle with people who have a different view of life and explore their perspective and lifestyle.
  • Change a routine in your life, your walking route, exercise, or things you eat. 
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation – it weakens the habit of taking things for granted.

 

For more information, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Featured Image by aykutaydogdu

How To Bring Your Personal Brand Voice To Life?

In a previous blog post, I talked about how to define your personal brand voice and frame recognizable standards to create your brand story. In whatever field, your distinct voice, signature image and style determine your relationship within your circle or group, overall in society at large. Let’s expand our topic to the critical element of bridging your brand identity/voice to real life and social media.

Let’s start with your engagements through myriads of social media platforms. Generally, the nature of these mediums is spontaneous and fluid. Cultivating your personal brand voice on social media calls for identifying your tone, your language and your purpose.  Creating contents that are authentic and endorse your brand voice; requires clarity, discipline and consistency. Blissfully once established, it takes away the distracting flotsam in your busy lives.

Sweeping through your list of what I am and what I am not, can be used to create contents that give a hint or a splash of your identity. It pays off if you have done your homework.  For instance:

You prefer the visual appeal of Instagram to adapt your screenplay and engage with your friends or the public. You are an empathizer but not a sympathizer; you prefer soft rock & relaxing music but not techno; you love to read fiction concerning social issues not science fiction; you are an advocate for a specific cause, you love to eat french pastry, the list goes on.

Indeed, the efforts to define your personal brand voice gives you a clear idea to share images and micro stories that exhibit your opinion and position. Creating snaps, videos, tweets or pictures to showcase what matters to you; putting into words effective captions that firmly support your perspective; sharing your odyssey, together breath life to your brand.

Each medium evokes different experience and connection. Tapping into the most compelling one to convey your intentions, you need to tailor your brand story to fit. No matter what form you are using, there are few techniques that you can apply to stamp your brand story, whether through snaps, images, conversations or attire:

Show don’t tell: your choice of clothing, manner, your posture, your eye contact, your images, a piece of art, snaps or pins,… should be in harmony with your brand voice.

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Serena Williams sleek feed on Instagram attest to her qualities and values.

 

 

 

Foreshadowing by giving hints and clues: your choice of accessories, food or wine; a quote or a proverb; building anticipation by composing contents that your circle looks forward to,…. are few tips to consider.

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For instance, one accessory that reflects your character in an understated elegance is a watch. Let’s say; you are a sportsman, a thrill-seeker,  drive a Porsche 911 and choose to spend a weekend in Circuit  des 24 heures de Mans. Certainly, you wear an Omega wristwatch that communicates the style with power in a subtle way.

 

 

Appeal to senses: your choice of music to include in your storytelling; a description of a taste;  narrating the mood,…. invoking a sentiment that one hopes for and allows your audience to relate.

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Jess Hoffman snapchat account (@ChoosingChia) focus on wholesome plant-based ingredients. She shares the fresh produce that goes into her juice of the day, step-by-step videos of her favourite recipes.

 

 

Ability to find solutions: Be a thought leader by sharing your knowledge; talk about your experiences;  be the expert on your topic of choice; tell what motivates you; your worldviews,….

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Lewis Howes, an American author, entrepreneur, and former professional Arena League football player. He hosts The School of Greatness; a talk show distributed podcast. He makes use of his knowledge of marketing, product design and human behaviour through his online media company.

 

Set up a unified visual branding: this technique surely applies both to your social media engagements and physical attributes. Use of colour that matches your emotions and fonts that appeal to you personally. Be expressive and include a signature style to indicate your distinct voice.

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Christoph Niemann Instagram account @abstractsunday is innovative and witty. His whimsical signature is apparent in all his visual storytelling.

 

 

We might not have the unique experience of cheering people up, influence, entertain, tell and hear stories around a campfire at all times, still adapting the same approach and emotions to our social and career networking brings our personal brand voice to life.