So many things about this pandemic are awful. That’s just truth plain and simple.

But some side effects have been positive.* And here’s one in particular that I think is positive for people leading and fundraising in the non profit space.

COVID-19 has enrolled us all in Beginner’s Mind 101 — whether we like it our not.

What is beginner’s mind and why is it a good thing?

Beginner’s mind is about dropping our expectations and having an attitude of openness and lack of preconceptions, even when we’re working at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

An expert has clear ideas of how things should go whereas a beginner is simply curious about how things are happening.

Buddhist monk Shunryu Suzuki explains it this way: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t gather skill, knowledge, and expertise. But as we do so, in order to stay in beginner’s mind, we must stop comparing what’s happening to what should be happening.

As we do that, we can transform difficult leadership activities and professional relationships by being more flexible, open, curious, grateful and present.

As we all experience the new-ness of the aptly named novel Coronavirus (AKA COVID-19), we have been plunged into a world where everyone is a beginner.

You’ve never had to lead or fundraise through a global pandemic. You are not supposed to be an expert right now.

So how can you embrace this beginner’s mind moment? How can you re-envision your work with fresh eyes? What beginner’s step can you take today that might lead to open sky possibilities tomorrow?

This beginner wishes you the best.

*I have so much privilege I need to recognize, which is why I can propose bright spots in this time of crisis.  I am writing this post safely from home. I have work I can do virtually and — so far — my livelihood hasn’t been affected. Most importantly, my  family and friends have been healthy.