Have you ever been faced with a constraint that forced you to think differently?
I did, this past weekend. On Saturday, I had joy of speaking at EPIC Impact Society, Inc.'s 2023 International Summit for their theme, "Uncharted Possibilities." I spoke about Unleashing the World of Possibilities through the Beginner's Mindset. It's a workshop to help you get out of an expert's mind and adopt a beginner's mindset. The net result? You'll unleash more possibilities.
Normally, I would have given talk with a slide deck and tech. After all, I've taught this workshop many times over the past two years and it's always been a hit with participants.
However, after I was selected to be a speaker for the summit, I was informed that we were required to avoid using technology (except for music).
For some people, this might not have been a big deal, but if you know me, I'm all about technology. I always use tech when in my workshops. Everything I do is digital, even note-taking! Furthermore, for this workshop, I had already created imagery that supported the concepts I taught and I knew trying to recreate that by hand would fall flat. My analogue artistic skills are less than desirable, including my writing skills. (Anyone have hard to read hand writing? That's me. Sometimes I don't even know what I've written down!).
My initial reaction when I first saw the email, was: should I even continue to do this? It knew it would require a significant amount of energy rethinking and retooling my workshop.
But, I thought to myself, how could I let a constraint like this prevent me from teaching on having a beginner's mindset?
Even though my expert brain was telling me my workshop was fine the way it was (tech and all), I needed to practice what I preached, regardless of how uncomfortable and difficult it could be.
So, I applied a beginner's mindset to reimagine my own workshop on teaching a beginner's mindset without tech. I literally applied the tools I teach others to myself.
Yes, it was hard, no doubt. Yes, I hit mental blocks. Yes, my brain came up with all kinds of reasons how impossible it was. But, I believed there were more possibilities out there; I just hadn't discovered them yet.
Here's what I did:
- I leaned into what I felt were my weaknesses and developed a way to create engaging no-tech slides.
- I utilized founds objects to further communicate ideas.
- I created new experiential ways to make the lessons hit home.
One of the participants commented on how innovative I was in the way I utilized flip charts. I was delighted to hear that, because that was one of my biggest a-ha moments as I prepared for the workshop. With tech presentations, you can use fades or additional slides to reveal content as you're talking about it and I wonder how I could recreate that same experience as I talked. My solution was to create a "peel and reveal" with my content on the flip charts and it worked very well!
The whole experience gave me fresh thinking and new ideas.
My mind opened up to new possibilities. I was thankful for the forced constraint from the team.
And the feedback from the participants was super positive too:
- "I just wished we had more time!"
- "I loved how interactive and unique the activities were."
- "Fun, informative, new perspectives."
- "Impressed with the analogue interpretation."
But more than all of this, I was thankful I could practice what I preach because the beginner's mindset really does unleash the world of possibilities. It's why I created this workshop over two years ago.
Shunryu Suzuki says, "If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few."
Here's two tips for you to apply a beginner's mindset today:
- What's a constraint you can apply to a current problem/challenge? No tech? No people? No computers? Has to be understood by a 5 year old? Has to cost less than $100? Has to incorporate resources you currently have? See what you can come up with, since you'll be forced to think differently. Remember, there's always more possibilities out there than you realize.
- How might you reframe your situation? Embrace the challenge at hand. Instead of grumbling about having to present my workshop without technology, I saw it as an opportunity. I literally wrote back to the organizer, "challenge accepted." I was curious what I could come up with. How might you look differently at your problem? What else might you see?
I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to think differently and apply a beginner's mindset. It opened up new ways of thinking for me and unleashed more possibilities. Who knows, I may adopt more non-tech related approaches in my upcoming workshops in the future. And coming from me, that's a big deal. 🙂