The Grace of a Beginner

As the first piece for 2016 I thought it appropriate to talk about beginning and what it takes to begin. By association, if you are beginning something new, that makes you a beginner. Most of the time, to think of ourselves as beginners is cringe worthy. We much prefer to know what we are doing and have a sense of confidence as we go about our business.

There is something quite powerful in beginner-hood, as it requires certain characteristics we often avoid. There are three things that contribute to being a graceful beginner:

Number 1: Humility
There is nothing more humbling than being a beginner. If you pack your ego with you when you head off to Camp 1st Timer it is sure to be harder and more embarrassing than it ought to be. Beginning is something that requires openness and acceptance. It is a context where new information is being provided and corrections of behaviours and actions are being made. For these to be received, our ego should be checked in at the door. It can hang out in your backpack for a while, along with Pride and Saving Face.

Number 2: Courage
There it is again, courage. And by now we know that without vulnerability, courage can’t exist. Being vulnerable doesn’t mean to be a soft, squishy, weak, mess—someone said this to me once, he then laughed when he realised how absurd he sounded, I just listened and laughed along with him. We need the most courage to start. To begin in the first place. Because before we begin, we are still the confident people who know what they’re doing. As soon as we begin, we become beginners, and that is scary.

Before and after sketch of what it takes and what it took

Number 3: Imperfection
At Camp 1st Timer, perfection is not welcome. Perhaps she can also hang out in your checked-in backpack with Pride and Saving Face. Perfection is what stops us, churns us, and makes us look like lazy procrastinators. We are not lazy procrastinators, we are terrified of being beginners. Having a huge expectations of being fantastic on day one is a convenient strategy to prove yourself right about how bad an idea it was to go to Camp 1st Timer in the first place! You know you’re not going to be awesome when you first try something, so why expect that you’re going to be?

Having humility, the courage to begin and not expecting perfection are the stuff of graceful beginners. Whenever we go about creating a new reality for ourselves, we are beginning.

This is the beginning of another year, let’s make it a graceful one.