It’s so hard to start things, isn’t it?
OR IS IT?
My first time bowling was in Big Bear Lake, CA. My parents drove us up to the mountains for a long weekend. It was summer, so no skiing. Just fresh air and pine trees.
And I was 9 so I was bored out of my skull. So my mom took me to The Bowling Barn, an alley that had just opened in town.
My mom bought us an unlimited hour of bowling. The Sunday afternoon special.
We rented the shoes. We shuffled from rack to rack, looking for the right bowling ball. I chose an orange creamsicle one.
We sat down in the hard plastic seats at the end of our lane. This was 1990, so no gutter guards! Parents weren’t protecting their children’s egos like that back then. At least mine weren’t.
In my first game, I bowled 107. One hundred and seven. With an 8-lb ball. At 9 years old!
It only manifests under very precise conditions, which keeps its existence kind of mythic. But beginner’s luck is very real.
So, what are those certain, very precise conditions?
No expectations. When you’re a beginner, you don’t fear being bad at the thing, because… of course you will be. You don’t know how to do it yet.
A sense of fun. “I’m here to enjoy myself.
I’m not here to excel, to prove, or to produce. I’m not here because I need it. I don’t need it. I just want to do it.”
After I bowled that 107, we started again. I was starting Game 2 with expectations. I thought I knew how to do it. Or I thought I should know.
I bowled a 41. My luck had evaporated.
I must have bowled 50 or 60 times over the next few years. But I never broke 100 again. Until…
Ten years later, I bowled a 133.
Beginner’s luck again? You better believe it.
I had slid back into those precise conditions I described above.
And I know why. The Big Lebowski. I had watched it the night before we bowled and it delivered me back to the beginner’s luck mindset.
I was rusty. But I had no expectations. I was there to have fun.
We can bring this beginner’s luck mind to everything we’re rusty at, but it’s hard when we’re not kids anymore, and it’s really, REALLY hard to bring to our work.
Bowling is just a game. But how can I approach work like a beginner? I’m supposed to be an expert!
Stick with that expectation and pressure – “I’m supposed to be… – and beginner’s luck will evaporate on you.
Just like it did on my second game at The Bowling Barn.
One less threatening way we can approach work like a beginner is to take up a new thing once in a while.
Maybe 90% of our work is stuff we are just so damn good at. But 100% can’t be that way. Otherwise we’d get more bored than I was on that day in 1990 when my mother and I piled in the car to go bowling.
So let’s say we allow 10% of our work for stuff we are new at or kind of suck at. Skills that feel rusty.
For a lot of business owners, one of those skills is writing for the business.
Taking up writing if you haven’t done it in a while (a year? 5 years? Since college?) can result in a lot of procrastination, pressure, and heaviness.
Or you can tap into the beginner’s luck mindset. It’s usually something silly that triggers it. Like The Big Lebowski. Or playing a game. (Not competing, Ace. Just playing.)
Maybe writing out a thought or a story that’s been fascinating you but has nothing to do with your business.
And that’s all well and good but…
What exactly do you do when you arrive at the blank page and the blinking cursor? Just how do you maintain that beginner’s mind?
I have 3 ideas for you. I put them in this PDF.
Roll around in some of that beginner’s luck glitter. Let me know how it feels.