“No one wants to brag about being a beginner. But, perhaps they should” -Chris Moore
I grew up playing a game in which an Italian plumber stepped on mushrooms and traveled via pipes or the occasional cloud. The game brought with it challenges, such as fire breathing dragon like turtles, angry fanged ghosts and the promise of saving a young princess at the end of each level. If you haven’t figured it out, I am describing Super Mario Brothers in the first Nintendo game consule. If your still scratching your head, please exit the rock you’ve been living under and join society.
Unlike the games of today, once your lives ran out, you had to start all the way in the beginning!! You could imagine the frustration a 7 year old boy would suffer at the hands of such madness. All of your progress erased before your very eyes. Level 1, here we go again.
Maybe this is the reason why we hate being the “beginner” so much. Programmed to feel helpless as we see all of our progress and effort reduced to null. We fear being told “you don’t have all the answers, head back to the start” after we’ve worked so hard to get right where we are. Level 20 in front of King Coopa’s castle.
We often defend the things we’ve built, the knowledge we’ve acquired and the status we feel we’ve earned. Beginning from the beginning seems so foolish. Especially as we get older, it becomes difficult to be put into a situation where we don’t have all the answers. Where we have to reprove ourselves. Taking a “white belt” mentality can be incredibly daunting.
I’ve seen this time and time again. People so afraid of being proven wrong they stay in thier bubble of perceived knowledge. No one wants to appear as if they don’t know what they are doing. We feel we’ve earned the right to be thick headed about new content or a new approach. Everything outside of our understanding is useless. We fear starting at level 1. That would mean putting yourself out there and asking for help. A big no go for many people. We get comfy with where we are at.
Often the beginner is seen as foolish. We may see them struggle at the gym or in the Dojo. Some may make a comment or feel bad for the beginner. Seeing them makes us feel good that we are at a higher level than them. It seems that we are programmed to pity the beginner. I mean, they have to progress through all the levels, from the bottom.
I once thought this way. Staying at my current specialty and felt as though other systems of fitness, martial arts or any skill were kind of useless to learn. This has changed dramatically for me. I now look up to the beginner. The person willing to swallow thier pride and start at level 1. The person that understands everyone has to start somewhere. The person who is willing to risk thier ego to learn something new at any age. And trust me, overcoming your ego is very difficult; however, being humble is a skill much needed on your path to progress. They will truly become better for it.
We often look down at the beginner; however, isn’t that what we should strive for? To always learn new information? To go through new phases of growth and development? I believe that the secret lies in the white belt mentality. To learn new strategies, tactics, skills and knowledge. To reinvent ourselves throughout life. Conquer and restart.
I remember the day I beat Super Mario Brothers. Fireworks on the tv went off and music blared, as I finally found the princess; however, after that what? Well, it was time to play it again. Restart at level one. Because, the enjoyment of the game wasn’t in finishing, it was in the journey to the castle. Life is lived in the path, not the destination. Begin something new. Whether it’s a new approach to fitness, yoga, martial arts or Crossfit. Become a beginner again.