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  • Writer's pictureKirby James

Breaking Our Old Patterns: Practice "Cho Shim"

You know what you know, right?

I mean, who is anyone to tell you that you don’t know what you are doing?

How about when your team is not delivering? If you are a senior leader and the results just are not materializing? Maybe you are a technical expert and are being challenged to do things you were never trained for, including by your current employer?

Maybe Covid has rewritten the rules and you are following the old playbook?

What if, just maybe, you need to approach things from a fresh direction? How do you do this?

A Crazy Example

Twice a year, I teach a truly weird skill to people: how to smash piles of wood or concrete with their hand. As a martial arts instructor, it has become my niche. OK, it's a weird niche. Check out my YouTube channel here.

One benefit is it teaches me a lot about how people process something they think they already know.

Here is the weird part: everyone thinks they know how to smash a concrete block with their hand when they have never done it before, or at best once or twice!

Think about that. A risky activity, you must complete to achieve your goal and people so often resist learning how.

How do you help them overcome this block?

That is where "Cho Shim" comes in. In Korean "Cho Shim" means “Beginners Mind”. Whenever I run a clinic on power breaking, before we start, I ask everyone to meditate on this simple phrase. What does it mean to have a “Beginners Mind”?

When we are a beginner, as my colleague Bernard Letendre has written in his article “The joy of lighting a spark in others”, everything is new. When offered a new skill, it is taken in with gratitude. There is an openness to new ideas. In many ways, teaching beginners in a martial art or anything else is easy because there are no preconceptions.

So, you would think teaching people to smash piles of wood or concrete with their hands, which they have never or rarely done, would be easy. Oh, I wish. The biggest challenge is overcoming what they think they know. In fact, a lot of the clinics focus on un-doing what they have incorrectly concluded is the right approach, even though they have never done it before.

3 Steps To Be a Beginner

  1. Take a deep breath. No kidding. Unconsciously, we often resist new ideas. Let your PFC (pre-frontal cortex) or thinking part of your brain get engaged. Take a deep breath.

  2. When asked to do something you have not done before, practice "Cho Shim" - approach to like it is something completely new. Maybe it is using Excel, maybe how to give a presentation. Perhaps it is building a business case for your new idea or creating a strategy for something you have never done before. Heck, it could be for a recipe to make Christmas cookies. When you accept that even with lots of experience there is more to learn, "Cho Shim" is a path to greater performance and greater results.

  3. As you practice this approach to new things, watch how new ideas emerge. THAT is the proof you need that "Cho Shim" actually works. When new ideas, new solutions start to appear for something you have done before you have set in motion something wonderful.

As the world spins, and these days it seems to spin slightly off balance, we need new thinking.

New thinking, new ideas, new approaches emerge from approaching challenges fresh, with an open mind.

"Cho Shim" can help you cultivate the skill of a beginners mind.

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