“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” ~Shunryu Suzuki
When I train entrepreneurs and business executives in the process of Appreciative Inquiry , I teach them to develop a “child’s mind,” a way of looking at the world that is different from how we have come to see it as adults. For many, this is not easy to do, but I am convinced that it is an essential pathway to creativity and innovation.
Think of a child, perhaps a 4 year old and how she approaches the world. What do you notice about her? Probably that she is endlessly curious. She asks lots of questions. She wants to know things, well, just because. And she is genuinely interested in the answers that she gets. She makes novel connections that make you chuckle. She is incredibly attentive. She notices the smallest detail and it captures her imagination. She takes time to pay attention.
When my niece, Kelsey, was about that age, my mother gave her a magnifying glass. Out on a walk together, my mother urged Kelsey to catch up. Kelsey’s response to my mother, “But I’m looking!” What had caught her attention and was the object of such rapt appreciation? An ordinary little bug, transformed under magnification and worthy of study.
Remember Kelsey when you are approaching your next project: slow down, look carefully and appreciatively, be childishly curious. You may be surprised what you find!
Here are some questions to ask to help you work on a new project with the mind of a child:
1. What enhancement or simplification to your idea would please a child?
2. What would a child’s version of your product or service look like?
3. What would you see if you looked through a magnifying glass?
4. What are you curious about?
Do you have an experience of how a child’s mind helped you move forward on something in a creative, innovative way? I would love to hear about it!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones
Certified Personal and Executive Coach