Confident Amateur

I think I come across as naive more often than not to people I connect with.

Maybe I am, maybe I am not.

To me, they mistake naivety for my beginner’s mindset.

You have to be an amateur first — and be okay with it — to become a master at what you do. That’s one of the big reasons why I pick up on things rather quickly. I’ve had friends comment on how frustrating it is that I can learn skills so easily. That I’m just “disciplined” or "talented”, but the honest truth is I’m not. I’m no smarter nor better than the average person working at Starbucks. I’m just open to new experience and opportunities for learning because I know it will upgrade my performance faster.

I put curiosity first (and wear it on my sleeve).

Ping-pong for example. 

I barely played ping pong growing up. Just wasn’t my thing. Every time I picked up a paddle I felt like the ball was completely out of my control.

Late last year I started playing a lot of ping-pong because there happened to be a table at the office. I sucked at first. Could barely keep the ball on the table. And if you had thrown a curve at me, I would have immediately hit it straight into a game over.

But I kept playing. Kept improving. I was open to failing because failing gave me instant feedback on what not to do.

Now, I can play. I’m not going to win any international tournaments any time soon, but I feel confident in my game.

Without curiosity, without a beginner’s mindset, without being okay to kneel down and bend the knee towards someone who is better than you at something, there’s no chance of learning or reaching mastery.

Pretending to know all that you need is closing yourself off from becoming better at what you love. Faking it helps build confidence, but it doesn’t help build skill. That takes practice and the curiosity to absorb lessons from success and failures.

And if you do fail, and look like a bubbled-boy idiot, who cares? At least you’re not boring. I’d much rather look like a goof and keep improving my skills and performance, over never trying because I might fail.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
And wherever you are, keep smiling :)
— Josh Waggoner

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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." — Shunryu Suzuki

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." — Barbara Sher

"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life." — Steve Jobs