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A Beginner’s Mindset


It’s school holidays, and we’re on a road trip. Our first stop was a family-friendly glamping resort called Kambati, and Caroline properly prepped for the experience by stocking up on magazines. You, Getaway and Fair Lady were the top pics, while I pretended to be intellectualism by grabbing a free copy of the Financial Mail at the airport. I quickly pivoted from the latest news telling us that markets are uncertain and leadership is a problem to the cover story on Anna de Armas, Posh Spice’s business turnaround and an article on TRUSTING YOUR GUT.

It's age-old wisdom, isn’t it? TRUST YOUR GUT. Whether it’s romantic relationships, business decisions, saying yes to an opportunity, saying no to an opportunity… TRUST YOUR GUT.

Because, you know, your gut knows. Right?

The article postulated that trusting your gut is a fallacy. That your gut has built its acidic, gassy predilections round learned biases and prejudice learned through background, historical data and learned behaviours.

The Fair Lady, god bless those hallowed journos, makes a good point. That trusting your gut can often lead you wrong. So what to do instead? Well, the argument points to data.

Unbiased, massive amounts of data available to us these days. Through Google, AI, research firms, stats SA… there’s data that can inform and shape our decisions, as opposed to “trusting our gut.” Whether we choose to pay attention to that data, that’s another story.

BTW, we can always find data to support our argument. Stay in South Africa? I can point to a low cost of living, preferential tax environment and excellent bang for your buck on private medical and schooling in my case. But then my buddy who emigrated to New Zealand can support his argument through an accountable government and good public medical and educational support.

This is why I liked something a mentor of mine, Conor Neill, said the other day. When he hires a new associate for his leadership business, he lets his wife make the final decision. Not because he is not good at reading people, but because his personality type favours people like him – but he doesn’t need people like him for that job, he needs a different kind of cat. His bias – his gut – will lead him to a wrong decision. So he brings in a trusted external reference to check his decisions and hire the right kind of resource.

It all links back to Shoshin – a beginner’s mindset. The world is a rapidly evolving place, and if we are going to stay married to our ideas and our biases we will be left behind. Much better to stay open to learning, stay open to evolving, and keep on building those neural pathways. It’s hard but worth it.


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