A team mowing the grass with scythes is a fascinating activity: the coming and going rhythm is sweet, hypnotic, and so dangerous for the beginners!
The morning dew covered the field. The air was cold. Getting up before 6 am did not make things easier. Pushed and pulled by the adults, joking but dragging our feet, we arrived on the field.
Our snacks and water bottles comfortably seated under a tree, we took our scythes with great care. One after another, we attacked the grass, which was sometimes taller than us, with our feet in the cold dew.
Spaced by a few meters, we moved forward in the sound of scythes gliding in the grass some steps behind us. The constant rhythm framed every gesture: right—left—step forward, again and again.
What is the difference between a beginner who advances, and another one who is not advancing? In life, there is an attitude which can change all when it comes to learning something new, and that’s the attitude of an advanced beginner.
All beginners are equal, the difference is in their attitude
We can go backwards at every step, or with curiosity. We can lower our tired arms or take a break and catch our breath. There is the learning, but also a rhythm to get into, a group who is sharing our experience, and if we are lucky, a mentor. Someone to answer our questions, explain, push, and encourage us when needed.
Grands-parents, colleagues, or friends can become our mentors for specific topics.
However, we need to be good protégés in order to succeed. The advanced beginner does not sit in the classroom waiting to be enlightened. She listens, has the patience and the persistence to follow and to repeat the exercises. And she advances with determination, one step at a time.
The first step is the most difficult
Sometimes you need to make a jump and get started before you’re even ready. A small step can be enough.
This first step can be preparing the room for the group. It can also be explaining the course of the lessons to newcomers. We can search and give examples related to the lesson’s topics.
The attitude of an advanced beginner is that of someone who wants to be active, who wants to have a role in their own learning.
How to be an advanced beginner today
On the grass field, an advanced beginner can carry the tools to help the others, on their way there or back. Once he learns a new technique, he can explain it to other beginners.
An advanced beginner turns towards his colleagues, more or less advanced, and makes the first step by helping them.
How to avoid the fear of starting up
Having a feeling of panic, of stress, even of fear, is the sign that we’re moving forward, that we’re taking risks. In a small dose, this becomes manageable, even a game.
Taking up a new role begins with the habits, the moves, the gestures. In the same way, taking small risks, on topics we don’t quite master yet, helps us move forward.
What is the advanced beginner’s recipe
Since my first encounters with tools as strange and dangerous as a scythe, I’ve noticed these problems:
– Advancing too fast takes our breath away and drains us
– Slowing down brings the sound of the other scythes closer
– Not taking the necessary time to clean-up his tools makes them less efficient
Apart from the second point, these are the same problems we meet in any learning—presenting in public, learning a new language, or trying a new job.
In order to succeed we need to:
– match our steps to the other beginners
– keep our tools prepared and ready
– take breaks after each step, breathe, and start again
But most importantly, we need to be an active participant in any small way in our learning. Like sustaining the good mood of the group.