Beginner’s Creed

I am a beginner.
I am entering a new game about which I know nothing.
I do not yet know how to move in this game.
I see many other people playing in this game now.
This game has gone on for many years prior to my arrival.
I am a new recruit arriving here for the first time.
I see value to me in learning to navigate in this domain.

There is much for me to learn:
    The basic terminology
    The basic rules
    The basic moves of action
    The basic strategies

While I am learning these things I may feel various negative reactions:
    Overwhelmed at how much there is to learn
    Insecure that I do not know what to do
    Inadequate that I lack the capacity to do this
    Frustrated and discouraged that my progress is so slow
    Angry that I have been given insufficient guidance
    Anxious that I will never perform up to expectations on which my career depends
    Embarrassed that everyone can see my mistakes

But these moods are part of being a beginner. It does not serve my goal and ambition to dwell in them. Instead,
    If I make a mistake, I will ask what lesson does this teach.
    If I make a discovery, I will celebrate my aha! moment.
    If I feel alone, I will remember that I have many friends ready to help.
    If I am stuck, I will ask for help from my teachers.

Over time, I will make fewer mistakes.
I will gain confidence in my abilities.
I will need less guidance from my teachers and friends.
I will gain familiarity with the game.
I will be able to have intelligent conversations with others in the game.
I will not cause breakdowns for promises that I lack the competence to keep.
I have an ambition to become competent, perhaps even proficient or expert in this game. But for now,
I am a beginner.

—By Peter J. Denning
From Communications of the ACM


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