A few weeks ago I ran a a short session at UniSuper about the role of the beginner’s mindset in embracing change.  I was reminded of the importance of being ‘green’. We talked about the importance of relentless curiosity and it brought back a metaphor in a quote I heard years back. It was initially attributed to MacDonalds founder Ray Croc!

If you’re green, you grow. If you’re ripe, you rot!

And it’s still true. Regardless of the breadth of your expertise, skills and knowledge, it’s impossible to know everything. There is always something new to learn and adopt. But we are conditioned to solve problems with our expertise. We are also rewarded by it – it grants us status, employment opportunities, perceived power and financial benefits. It often defines us. Yet, paradoxically, it also limits us!

The perils of the expert mindset

Your expert mindset may stop you from seeking new knowledge. Or perhaps you don’t feel comfortable saying “I don’t know” or asking questions. It can make you feel vulnerable. If you get stuck here, you are ‘ripe’ – a place where little growth occurs.

Benefits of the Beginner’s mindset!

Once you drop this this attachment to your expertise, you are liberated from having all the answers. You have set yourself free to ask, find out more, experiment, and build a climate psychological safety for others to do the same. This is being ‘green’ – with a mindset that is open to new information, experimentation, shows courage to ask. As a leader, you signal to your team that it’s a safe place to try new things and reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what you can do better next time. You unleash more potential and innovation.

My parting message to my audience was ‘be more green’.

Of course, we are not saying – ditch your knowledge. The art is to balance your expertise with a  beginner’s mindset.