The Beginner’s Mind


Guess what?

There is a whole lot of bullshit out there in the fitness world.

Surprising huh?

As a coach, who actually cares about making people better, this is a major problem because I end up spending way too much time dispelling myths and nonsense from the gurus and fitness “experts” out there in the world.

For example: Study: Dr. Oz is Full of Shit

Oh and also this: Butter In Your Coffee and Other Cons: Stories From a Fitness Insider

With so much dubious shit out there how do you know who to trust?

You really don’t

And that is a major problem

Especially when your life depends on your fitness

However, all is not lost…

Just because there are a ton of shysters and gurus out there that are GREAT at baffling people into buying their bullshit doesn’t mean there aren’t a ton of great people trying to truly make the world a better place.

As some of you may have noticed (and this was recently confirmed by one of you) I don’t make hardline stances on many things.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion, I do, I just don’t engage in the traditional media hyped craziness.

I’m a firm believer in just about anything that gets you off your ass and moving.

Are some things better than others?


But honestly, that is for you to decide.

Which is the big issue here.

How do you know who you can trust?

It’s actually easier than you may think, you just need to sift through the nonsense and look for one simple trait.

Ultimately all the best fitness professionals have one trait in common…

Shoshin: The Beginner’s Mind

This concept is rooted in Zen Buddhism and is super popular in many Japanese martial arts.

The point of Shoshin, or achieving the beginner’s mind, is to let go of the ego and basically become a lifelong student.

This sounds simple enough, but it’s much harder than you think because you actually have to train yourself in the art of learning.

We talk a lot about working on your movement skill, but you also need to learn how to learn as well — The skill of learning.

Have you ever said: “I already know how to…”?

Then you’ve already lost.

Because it’s not about being right or wrong, but it is about being open to new ideas that challenge your beliefs.

Which is what Shoshin is all about.

And what my friend Zach Even-Esh likes to refer to as “Always be a white belt”

Letting go of the ego and being open to new ideas, methods, and points-of-view is incredibly powerful.

It doesn’t mean you have to buy into what everyone is saying, but when you approach everything as a student, seeking any tiny piece of knowledge that could make you better at your craft, you’ll probably learn something helpful.

And this is what many of the great coaches do

It’s also what many of the more successful athletes do as well.

For example, I had someone just yesterday tell me: “I used to talk a lot of shit about CrossFit, then I joined a gym and tried it, haven’t looked back.”

Does this mean that CrossFit is the greatest thing since pockets on jeans?

Not necessarily, but this individual decided to put his preconceptions aside and give it a shot.

And guess what?

He is a much better athlete for it.

On the flip side, he could have just done what the vast majority of people do when faced with a challenge.

Seek out sources of information that “prove” their individual point of view and validate the things they already believe.

This is called confirmation bias and it is one of the quickest ways to sabotage your learning.

It’s more comfortable to exist in a curated bubble where all of your friends, social media posts, and media validate your current line of thinking.

However, this will ultimately lead to the death of your growth as a human being.

For example:

I happen to think that CrossFit is pretty great.

However, I still seek outside information, opposing points of view, and knowledge obtained from other fitness methodologies when I design my training programs although it would be incredibly easy for me to only read and share information (and Facebook posts) that agree with my thinking about CrossFit.

It would be even easier to take to the internet like a true keyboard warrior and bash people in the comments of posts that don’t fit my exact belief system.

But I don’t.

Because it would be a disservice to everyone reading this post right now.

Because I hold myself to a higher standard.

Because I believe that I can always learn a new way of doing something.

This was one of the main reasons I pursued a Master’s degree. I didn’t have a formal (educational) background in exercise science or kinesiology and knew I was missing a lot of information.

I also knew I was a pretty good coach — You know, cause results speak louder than pieces of paper hung on the wall of the office. — But that’s beside the point here.

Always a student

I’m challenging you to put your ego aside and attempt to learn something new from a source that you’d typically avoid.

If you’re a CrossFitter, spend a week or two following a bodybuilding routine

If you’re a traditional long-distance runner, drastically reduce your mileage for a couple of weeks and focus on getting faster.

In either of those cases I bet you’ll learn something new and useful that you’ll be able to incorporate into your regular training program.

We should all be seeking to learn from as many different places as possible!

That is the only way to achieve the beginners mind and master the concept of Shoshin

It is the only way to continue to improve (as a coach) and provide the best information possible to your athletes and it happens to be one of the better ways to push your limits as an athlete and find your weaknesses.

Anything else is a disservice.


James Clear: Shoshin: This Zen Concept Will Help You Stop Being a Slave to Old Behaviors and Beliefs

Shoshin: The Beginner’s Mind

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