Transformation Starts with the “Attitude of a Beginner”

Success Strategy #4 for Transformational Change Leaders

by Robert S. Tipton

I sang and danced in a musical.


It was humbling and empowering simultaneously, and I found it to be one of the more transformational experiences of my adult life. Why? In order to be successful at it (believe me, I had NO experience as either a singer or a dancer — and some may debate the ultimate level of my “success”), I found I had to be willing to “start as a beginner.”

(Yes, there is video evidence of my singing and dancing — it’s in a YouTube video that my wife Debi posted. Keep reading below, and you’ll be able to watch it if you’d like. In the meantime, here’s a screen shot…)

Now, you may put the statement “start as a beginner” in the category of “Duh…” when it comes to new things.

However, in my experience, “not knowing” enough about the “new thing” is one our most sizable barriers when it comes to doing something new, or trying something different.

C’mon. Be honest — have you thought about learning a new language and stopped yourself — because you didn’t want to sound like a 2-year old speaking the new language?

Or have you considered becoming a painter, or an author, or (fill in the blank) — only to talk yourself out of it because you couldn’t bear the thought of looking silly?

You are MOST definitely NOT alone here.

For some reason, as we age, we tend to prefer the role of “teacher” and eschew the role of “learner.” Why? I’m sure there are tons of good psychologists out there that could cite the reasons behind it all.

I’m not so concerned about that.

Instead, I know just how much we miss by not being willing to “start as beginners.”

The Joy of Failure and the Thrill of Success

We will spend MONTHS (and sometimes years) trying to get exactly the same job from which we got laid off — just because we “deserve” to have that job. After all, “I have all that training and experience,” we might say.

Yes, but what if the job we’re after doesn’t exist any more? (Think IT jobs after the bomb) Or, what about the option to enter a new field where we have to be “staff” and not management from day one? Perish the thought!

Additionally, we miss the joy of failure (yes, that’s right!) — and the thrill of success when trying to speak a foreign language in a foreign land. It’s FUN to struggle to pronounce words correctly — or get sentence syntax right — in a different language. Belly laughter often results!

I’m reminded of the time when I said in Spanish, “Tengo hombre,” when I meant to say, “Tengo hambre.” Small difference between “I have a man” and “I am hungry.” The group I was with thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard, and the relationship among us blossomed.

However, many in my country just WON’T travel anywhere where English is not spoken. How limiting is that??

Make a Resolution, Today, to Start Something As a Beginner

What options in your life, your work, your future are you eliminating due your fear of “starting as a beginner, or becoming a learner?”

That can change. Today.

Make a resolution (an agreement with yourself) to start something as a beginner.

Pick one thing — anything — and be willing to enjoy the joy of failure. And — be ready to experience the thrill of success when you overcome.

Today. Start today.

You Can’t Stop the Beat

Okay — for those of you who like to watch train wrecks, or can’t keep your eyes off of a good car accident, here’s the video of yours truly singing and dancing to “You Can’t Stop the Beat” (from “Hairspray”). My daughter Grace was in the musical, and the director thought having me in it too would be some good “father/daughter bonding time.” That proved to be true — it was great spending that much time with Grace. And — I discovered by “starting as a beginner, and becoming a learner,” that I had a BLAST!

Postscript: I just discovered when reading the paper this morning that Mark O’Donnell, the co-writer of “Hairspray,” passed away yesterday. Yes, “Hairspray” was campy and silly, but it had a deep and powerful message related to equality as well.

Godspeed Mark.

For More On Transformational Change Leadership,
Please Check Out These Other Posts from Our Blog:

• What ‘Wants To’ Happen for You Today?
• How You See the Future Changes Everything!
• Get a Renewed Attitude and Stop ‘Managing’ Change!
• 9 Stages of Transformational Change
• 5 Essential Behaviors of Transformational Change Leaders
• 7 Core Beliefs of Transformational Change Leaders

Looking for a Transformational Change Keynote Speaker? Look No Further…


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