An interesting trend is developing in my email threads. Recently, the majority of my dialog with clients and website members involves the emotional jiu jitsu involved with being a beginner. Huzzah, I exclaim, since embracing the newness of a journey is my battle cry. Exploring what is possible while staring up from the bottom of the mountain is sort of my raison d'etre, so much so that I'll recommend purposefully being a beginner as a permanent mission. One could say the BodyTribe way is to train towards being an expert at being a beginner. In many of my current dialogs, there is a theme of fear-of-renewal. As in, I've done this before, but now I have to start doing it again, and there is the expectation of getting it "right." In these cases, we're talking about movement and strength, since, ya know, them's my wheelhouse. So the conversations are based on having a previous history of working out, but approaching the body currently with those old ways seems scary. But necessary. And tinged with a light sheen of embarrassment, since something once eagerly endeavored now has to be approached freshly and hesitantly. Ya know... as a beginner. The current script is "What if I get it wrong?" "I'm supposed to know better." "What if I can't do it like I did before?" Yeah... what if? What if you do it differently, and it's better for you. What if... and I'm asking you to hold on to your seat here... what if you didn't quite know what you thought you knew? How cool would it be to start learning it again, but this time, for reals.
You could also add to what you previously knew. Being a beginner doesn't always mean starting from the beginning, just starting again from where you are now. New insights and lessons along an already tread path create new experiences. A beginner can bring existing knowledge to the exploration. You're not a blank slate of knowing, but we might splash new paint over some of the old canvas. You'll like the result.
Here's a checklist of things that are awesome as a beginner... 1) You're 100% allowed to lower your expectations. One of my conversations has been with a friend who shuns the role of beginner because she has to get things perfect. So I gave her a puzzle. Become the perfect beginner. Ultimately that would mean dropping the idea of perfection. Uh oh. Lower your expectations down to one simple idea: show up. Then what happens next is simply a bonus. 2) Asking for help is a lesson in itself! Being a beginner means learning, and the biggest take-away will be learning how to learn. Being a student of the art of asking is the path of mastery, and that mastery is simply understanding what you don't know. No, really, it's a fun circle. Trust me. I'm the expert. 3) You're not alone. In fact you may be surprised at how many of your tribe are ready to join or support you. See #7. 4) You'll be a better teacher. Purposely feeling like an idiot cultivates empathy for others who are scared of the process. The curious make the best guides.
5) You'll know yourself better. 6) You'll be a better explorer. A beginner is an explorer, and any explorer covets every challenge as a possible beginning. 7) You're an inspiration. Despite the human condition of cheering for the GOAT, it's the beginner that can light the path for others to follow.
All change comes from challenge. Training, in my ideal world, is the organization of the uncomfortable into a program that allows us to give purpose to that change, cultivating growth from those challenges. So a workout program is simply a series of beginnings, whether you're new to it, or the seasoned veteran with all the calluses and water bottles to prove it. You begin the workout, you begin the training cycle, you begin the quest for the next 10 pounds on the bar, or the tweaking of your technique, or the opening of your joints. We begin again and again. It's built into the system. There is, however, one big caveat to allowing yourself to begin again successfully: Be curious, not obligated. A concept that is either instantly grokked, or utterly foreign. I'm hoping for the former, otherwise I've got another entire blog post to write.
Not too long ago, I was being a beginner again with a group of people in Boulder, CO, led by movement and play maestro Kyle Fincham. His prescription followed along the lines of my mantra, move in many ways, for many reasons.
Very soon after, he invited me onto his podcast, Behind The Movement.