The Forrest Gump Effect: Or the Power of a Beginner’s Mind

Yesterday, I went to the Opera in Nice. I managed to get one of the last seated tickets for Philipp Glass’ Akhnaten, for the last day it was playing.

I am so grateful I caught this opportunity.

Funny things happened that evening.

A digression

First of all, I caught myself treating myself cheaply, trying to save 8€ on a ticket, which gave me a seat on the side row without a backrest. If you go to the opera, I recommend at least a 3rd category ticket.

About fifteen minutes into the opera, I saw that there were four empty seats, just three rows in front of me. I coached myself mentally and told myself: “Try to get kicked out !”

I didn’t feel fear, and I moved and took the seat I really wanted. It made me reflect on all the moments I don’t give myself what I really really wanted in life.

In which areas of your life do you do this?

How are you giving yourself the fold-up seat ?

What would “taking the right seat” look for you?

But that’s not the core of this article.

The connoisseur in the bathroom

Just before the show started, I chatted with a man, after the security guard had told me to leave my metal water container at the entrance and pick it up after the opera. The man explained how he had kept his pepper spray and his folding knife in the bottom of his backpack !

Tools are not dangerous, the men using them can be.

I met this man again at the restroom during the entr’acte, he told me:

“I bet you you’re loving it.”

I replied:

“Yes I am !”

Indeed, I was fascinated with the show. I really liked it a lot: the scenography, the mixture of pre-modern, modern and post-modern, the mix of languages, the costumes, the simplicity and relative minimalism, the aesthetics, the chorus and songs, …

I then asked him:

“How about you?”

He replied:

“It is appalling ! It is all a copy from Jean-Michel Jarre, Carmina Burana, …”

[He started reciting a lot of reference, half of which I had never heard of. He was a connoisseur.]

I couldn’t help but think about Austin Kleon’s great book: Steal Like an Artist.
But I bit my tongue and continued listening to this man instead.

He continued:

“The scenography is distasteful, everything is so predictable, and there are big mistakes: how can you put a mezzo with a tenor and a soprano singing together?”

[I am not even sure that he said these exact words, but my ignorance is so large that I can’t remember exactly.]

He added:

“Fortunately, I could look at the ceiling and decorations of this lovely opera house.”

[Indeed, the Nice Opera House is a beautiful one]

Best part:

“I am suffering, I don’t know how I’ll go through the second part !”

The coach in me wanted to tell him that suffering was optional and he could leave the show instead of wasting his time.

But again, I bit my tongue and stayed in my state of curiosity and candor.

After a while, interestingly, he said:

“The funny thing is: I could also think that it was great, and I could give you all the arguments stating how lovely it was.”

I smiled inwardly and outwardly.

This man was referring to the dualistic nature of the mind:

Our capacity to see things positively or negatively at will.

Our capacity to shift from Judge to Sage, as we learn when we grow our Positive Intelligence.

That is the empty potential of all things, described in The Diamond Cutter.

It is also the Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (see Shunryu Suzuki’s book).

That mindset is one of the greatest Powers of Forrest Gump:

His ignorance, and total absence of preconceptions about the world.

Unknowingly, he is applying the 3rd Agreement based on Toltec wisdom (see Don Miguel Ruiz’s book):

“Don’t make assumptions.”

That allowed him to survive the Vietnam war (“Something bit me.”), and to influence politics and the story of one the greatest Nations on Earth (his influence on the Watergate), and become an early shareholder in Apple (“A fruit company”).

What will you do about it?

After the entr’acte, I joined my seat, and staying in that state of curiosity, I started watching the show. I could start to see glimpses of the fakeness of the show. The ridiculousness of it all. I could see the stupidity of the dancers jumping, and the whole ridiculousness of me sitting in that seat, in the middle of this crowd of people in tuxedos, people with whom I share very little except for our humanity.

The show had not changed, but my perception had.

I had consciously let this man influence my perception slightly, for the sake of experimentation.

Then, I decided that I wanted to enjoy the show again.

So I cleansed my doors of perception, and started seeing the beauty of the show again.

I had recovered my innocence, which was a liberation.

I felt like Forrest Gump.

I love being amazed at the beauty of life.

In that sense, Ignorance is bliss.

It is like looking at the world with Children’s eyes.

How do you already cultivate candor and looking at the world through beginner’s eyes?

What are areas in your life or your business where you suffer uselessly?

How could you turn things around if you wanted to simply by shifting your perception?

In which areas of your life is your Ignorance Bliss ?

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