Being a Beginner

Being a Beginner

I’ve been reeling over this feeling that you experience as a beginner. Everything is new and intimidating. You don’t know what notes to take because you don’t know what the important parts to remember are. You feel pressure to ask the right questions and are afraid to even ask a question because you’re not sure if it is stupid or relevant. You don’t want to sound dumb, but you can’t help it; you don’t even know how to express the concepts that you are trying to learn. You don’t know who is willing to help you get to that next level, and you find out the hard way when someone shoots you down.

It’s a very vulnerable and sensitive experience, and it is the reason that most beginners suddenly halt their pursuit before they even have the chance to get to that next level.

You’d think that the skilled folks would help. After all, they were once a beginner, right? Strangely, it seems the opposite.* Many of these people save their knowledge for their own benefit, and I can’t figure out why.

  • So they don’t have to waste time trying to get a beginner to understand?
  • For fear of others catching up to their skill set?
  • Just to show off how much they know?

Frankly, inadvertently or not, they make beginners feel stupid for being wrong and for even trying to get to the next level, while in the mean time they are happy to talk about it with other advanced people over a beer or dinner.

What’s going on in this middle ground? Are you afraid to talk because you don’t want to be wrong? Are you intimidated by those who might know more than you? Do you feel like there is no good platform or non-pressure outlet to share? There are people who would do anything to know some of the things that you do and to have someone willing to help them out.

Beginners: Be wrong. There IS such a thing as a dumb question. Ask it anyway. That’s how you learn.

Intermediates: Be as helpful as you can be to those who want it. Giving a beginner a jump start is way better than doing nothing about it.

Advancers: Share what you know. Foster an environment where learning is encouraged. Show others the right way.

To read: “Mastery” by Robert Greene

*If you are thinking, “Not me!”, or “Not her!”, then good. We need more people like you and her.

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