When I first started training handstands nearly six years ago now, I had absolutely zero previous experience with the skill.
I didn’t do gymnastics growing up, and had no reason to believe I would ever be even remotely decent at a difficult skill like hand balancing.
Similarly, when I first started boxing a year and a half ago, I had zero experience other than hitting a punching bag as hard as I could (now I realize, with poor form) and punching a few holes in the wall growing up (sorry, Mom and Dad!).
Both experiences started out as extremely humbling and frustrating. I can’t tell you just how many times that I wanted to quit, to tell myself and others that I wasn’t a “natural” at either skill and move on to something else.
After all, no one but me would really care if I quit.
So why didn’t I?
Because I know that maintaining a beginner’s mindset in at least one area of my life is the best way to continue growing and progressing as an athlete and person in all areas of my life.
Why Keeping a Beginner’s Mindset is So Important
There’s no question that feeling like a beginner at something is a frustrating and often humbling experience. So why not just stick with the things you’re already good at?
Keeping a beginner’s mindset is helpful for lots of great reasons:
- It helps you keep making progress. If you’re always staying open, curious, and looking for ways to improve, you’ll keep finding ways to make progress and avoid plateaus, no matter how advanced you get.
- It helps you relate to others at different points in their fitness journeys. Remember when you couldn’t do a push up, pull up, or even a few burpees in a row without getting winded? I sure do. Maintaining a beginner’s mindset helps you relate to others at different points in their own fitness journeys so you can help, inspire, or teach what you’ve learned in a non-judgmental manner.
- It helps stave off boredom. If you already think you know everything about a particular skill or activity, you’re bound to get bored and want to move on to the next thing. Keeping a beginner’s mindset and always looking for new ways to challenge yourself within that skill will keep it endlessly interesting.
Continuously putting yourself through new challenging situations and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the best way to keep growing and progressing, not only in fitness, but also in your personal and professional life.
Learn From Coaches, Teachers, and Other Experts
Always seeking out new learning opportunities from other people more experienced than you is one of the best things you can do to keep making progress.
Unless you are the absolute best in the world in one area (which is unlikely to be the case, no matter how good you are), you can always learn something from others, as long as you stay open minded. And getting the chance to work with someone better and more experienced than you is one of the best opportunities you’ll ever have to grow and improve.
If you can’t work with someone directly (due to lack of money or access), one of the best things you can do is to find books written by experts on the subject.
This is how I’ve done much of my own learning and growing when I can’t work with the expert directly, and those countless hours of reading have been absolutely invaluable for me.
Read everything you can from people more knowledgeable than you, constantly seek out new learning opportunities, and you’ll improve by leaps and bounds.
Try Something Completely New
One of the best ways to stay humble and curious in any area of your life is to try something you really are a total beginner at.
When I started boxing seriously last year, I’m not going to lie, it was extremely humbling.
Although I went into the sport already fairly fit and strong (HIIT workouts work, you guys!), getting in the ring and learning to spar and move like a fighter is so different than just hitting the bag hard.
Having that beginner perspective not only allowed me to appreciate how far I’ve come in my own fitness journey, but also helped me better relate to my students and readers who are at an earlier stage in their own journeys.
Trying something new can also spark more excitement in your training and might be the thing you need to get you out of a plateau or motivation funk.
Teach What You’ve Learned
Another great way to maintain a beginner’s mindset and keep a fresh perspective is to teach what you’ve learned to someone else.
Whether this means you’re teaching your kid, niece or nephew to do handstands, showing your friend how to work up to do a pull up, or assuming the role of a coach and teaching a class, workshop, or putting on an event, teaching will help you assume a beginner’s mindset by forcing you to break down the skill you’re trying to teach into manageable steps for beginners.
Another benefit of teaching is that it really forces you to look at every aspect of the skill so that you end up getting better as a result.
Keep a Fresh Perspective
If you really want to keep growing and improving, whether as an athlete, friend, entrepreneur, or even in your relationship, it’s imperative that you keep a beginner’s mindset throughout the process.
By seeking out new learning opportunities, trying new things, and teaching others what you’ve learned, you’ll be able to keep a fresh perspective and continue making progress for life.
“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” — Zen monk Shunryu Suzuki