Friday, November 11, 2005

Beginner's Mind Questions

Several lifetimes ago I went fishing with a friend name of Ron. I’d never been fishing before. Ever. We stood on the edges of ponds hazarding a golf course and cast. Ron had given me basic instructions but I was anxious, as always, to do it right.

In a few minutes, Ron was pulling a small fish in. He showed me how to get the hook out and released the little fellow. And when it was over, I looked at him and said, “Ok, now, how exactly did you do that?” He looked at me for a moment, considering what all I may have meant in that question but what he said was, “Wow, that’s an excellent question.” So then instead of talking about fishing, we talked about the nature of questions and the various approaches to gathering information and using it (or not) in life and such as that.

I was young back then, just 20. I had a good instinct for it all but I was still crippled at that point by what I thought I should know already. Or maybe by the assumption by me that I already knew stuff. Or something. Or many things.

Whatever, I didn’t, back then, ask enough questions, and I especially didn’t ask them of the right people. I didn’t find people who were doing what I wanted to do and say, “Hey, how did you do that?” Maybe it is easier to ask that question when you don’t know anything about it, like it was with me and fishing back then. Maybe that’s the importance of beginner's mind.

These days I sometimes ask so many questions as to drive people crazy. I was realizing that on my new job recently -- perhaps it wasn’t important for me to know why but there I was, asking anyway. What does this little symbol mean? But perhaps the most important question I’ve learned to ask is, “What can I do to help you?”

Just another way of looking for your give away. Because it isn’t about what we can get but what we give.

Speaking of giving, have you hugged a vet today? If there are veterans who read this, thank you and consider yourself hugged.

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