Being a Beginner is a Good Thing for Sustainability

July 01, 2016 3 min read

Beginner's mind


Have you ever heard the term Beginner’s Mind?  It’s often referred to in readings about mindfulness and meditation, however can be applied to so much more.

Although I have been dedicated to the subject of sustainability for over a decade, having taken a beginner’s mind approach has allowed me to continue to learn and grow along the way.

We won’t get into all the details in this blog, but I will take a minute to share with you a quote to shed some light on the term.

“Beginner’s mind is an attitude.  It doesn’t mean you don’t know anything.  It means that you are spacious enough in the moment to not be caught by what it is that you do know or have experienced in the face of the enormity of what is unknown.”
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Now that’s a pretty powerful statement.  The author does a wonderful job at summing up not only the enormity of the unknown, but also the benefit of not knowing everything.

Sustainability and social responsibility have been part of human existence since the dawn of man in one form or another.  What’s perhaps new about the subject is bringing it into the boardroom, and applying it to business practices.

Really that’s what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability are all about when we look at it from the enterprise’s angle.

Members of the collective community are looking to companies, urging them to make a difference across the globe just by shifting the way they do business.  What once solely rested on the shoulders of government and non-profits, now rest in the hands of individuals and enterprises to play a part.

This is an amazing opportunity for companies of any size to strengthen their brand, and build a business that conscious customers want to invest in and support.

But it takes time.  This shift from the status quo of driving profit up for shareholders to balancing a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) for stakeholders does not happen overnight.

Business for the intent of profit has been around for just as long as social responsibility, however the two of them on one spreadsheet is still foreign to many.  CSR opens the door for businesses to operate beyond financial profit, and really explore balancing a healthy TBL.

This is where the beginner’s mind comes in.  Since there is newness to this idea of enterprises offering solutions to social issues and injustices, we need to be open to new ways of doing things.

While age old economic theories still have a role in business, so do innovative approaches.

I find a lot of CSR and sustainable solutions to be innate knowledge that everyone possesses, tapping into Nature is the best way to get to the source of information.

That means it doesn’t matter if you are the CEO or an intern fresh out of college, your mind – if open to new ideas – can come up with amazing life changing solutions.

The good news is this provides the opportunity to include everyone in the business to come together to brainstorm on CSR and sustainability.  No matter where you stand on the corporate ladder, if you embrace the beginner’s mind, you will instill inclusiveness amongst all team members.  This is a chance to lead by example, even if you don’t own the business.

Engaging team members in a brainstorming session with an open beginner’s mind can prove to be beneficial in more ways than one.  It’s a great starting point to help build a strong foundation for strengthening your organization’s TBL.

Looking to get started?  Perhaps you can help organize an employee engagement event in your workplace. 

However, if you're still looking to gain a bit more knowledge before bringing the idea to work with you, be sure to bookmark this page or sign up for our newsletter.