Be Open to Learning: Keep a ‘White Belt Mentality’

In my time, I have attempted many sports.  One of the endeavours I enjoyed most was martial arts.  At a more advanced age (40) I started Ju Jitsu.  I did this because my kids started Ju Jitsu lessons and it was either sit in the gym and watch or get on the mats and join in.  Eventually injury put an end to this and my training this stopped.  But what I took from the experience was invaluable.

When you start in martial arts you start at the bottom; you are a white belt.  The ultimate aim is to attain the rank of Black belt.  There are many steps in-between.  As a white belt you know very little and you learn lots of things very quickly.  Sometimes this can be overwhelming. 

What surprised me was the willingness of those who had attained a black belt in Ju Jitsu to venture out and try other martial arts.  They would happily put on a white belt and start again in a new discipline at the bottom.  I talked to quite a few of them about this and they said, “you need to always have a white belt mentality”.  What they meant by this was you need to always be open to learning.

How does this apply to business?  Always understand that no matter how good you are at what you do, there is scope to learn new things.  That even the most junior person in your business can potentially teach you something valuable.  That you should be seeking out people who adopt this attitude.

More specifically, if you are engaging an accountant or financial advisor you should check they are committed to maintaining and improving their knowledge.  Our industry changes so often, it is so easy to be left behind.  The best advisors have a thirst for new knowledge.  This is the type of advisor you want.

I never attained a black belt.  I got close but, in the end, injury stopped me.  I did, however, get something very valuable out of the experience.  I now understand that no matter how good you are at something you can always learn.  In fact, you should never stop trying to learn.