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A Green Sponge or A Beginner’s Mind - Which Came First?

January 19, 20232 min read

Have you ever wondered where the term “being green” comes from? The phrase is thought to have originated from the idea of a green plant or tree, which is new and not yet fully grown or developed. This phrase is also associated with the color green which is often associated with growth and inexperience.

And of course, a sponge absorbs liquid. I love the analogy of us absorbing new information and ideas!

So what could be better than being a green sponge? That is exactly what I was…

I’m 22 years old and watching a speaker, thinking, “I want to be just like her. What can I learn? What do I need to do?” I practically run over people as she finishes so that I can beg her to mentor me. I find one mentor after another. Anyone who has done anything that I can learn from. I am so green and I’m absorbing like a sponge!

Do you remember when you first started something that you really wanted to learn and learned like a sponge? When someone had a suggestion, you took it in, asked questions, and couldn’t get enough advice?

Then, as time progressed, you learned more and became pretty proficient at what you had learned. You may have started teaching others what you had become competent in.

And then it happened before your eyes without realizing it…you went from being a green sponge, to someone who thought you knew better, had tried it all, been there – done that.

It happens to the best of us!

I believe the key is to always be a green sponge, and the way to do that is to have a “beginner’s mind” no matter if we’re 100 years old or 22 years old. The concept of a “beginner’s mind” comes from Zen Buddhism and refers to the state of mind of someone who is open, curious, and free from preconceptions or biases. It allows for greater flexibility, creativity, and understanding.

What an exciting place to be every moment, every day!

Recently, I realized someone gave me a suggestion, and I thought, “Yeah, I’ve tried that.” As the person continued, I realized I hadn’t done what they were talking about and their suggestion was incredible! And I almost missed it by being a non-absorbent paper towel! Thank goodness I stuck around long enough to hear what else they had to say, even though I was doing it out of courtesy.

In that moment I made the choice to become aware of having a beginner’s mind always! To become a green sponge again - especially on the things I do know.

Are you a green sponge with a beginner's mind? Or have a beginner’s mind so you can be a green sponge? Which came first? Oh, who cares…I’m ready to learn! How about you?

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