Crush Your Goals with a Beginner’s Mindset - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Crush Your Goals with a Beginner’s Mindset

Typically, a beginner is not someone held in high esteem. They’re unskilled and tend to lack the knowledge required to be successful. Liz Forkin Bohannon, founder and CEO of Sseko Designs, argues channeling your inner beginner allows you to become a more curious, innovative and effective leader.

During the opening Main Stage session at ELEVATE on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, Bohannon will explore some of the key principles from her book, Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose & Impact Now, on how to develop a beginner’s mindset.

Liz Bohannon

“They should attend this keynote if they are in a season of transition,” Bohannon says. “If they are just feeling a little stuck or a little bit overwhelmed. If they’re feeling like they haven’t figured it out. If they haven’t ‘found their passion’ or figured out how to make an impact in the world. They will leave this keynote feeling really energized and really inspired.”  

Bohannon will use her personal story of starting and growing her fashion brand, which she started in 2008 as a way to provide educational and economic opportunities for women in East Africa, to illustrate concepts that go against some of the common self-help advice when it comes to being innovative.

“As I started talking to people, I noticed that it seemed to get people where they want to go more than some of the classic self-help advice,” Bohannon says. “I think this works better for me, and it seems like there’s at least a certain population where this resonates more, so let’s lean into it.”

Some of the points she will touch on include choosing curiosity over criticism, giving yourself permission to dream small, and how to build your passion. Bohannon says it’s often a fear of looking stupid and feeling like an imposter that prevents people from embracing a beginner’s mindset.

“We’ve internalized these messages about success and about leadership that aren’t true,” Bohannon says. “In fact, curious folks who are willing to ask questions, to admit that they might not have it all together or that their ideas are changing and growing and evolving, often are the ones that are the most effective leaders and creators and innovators.”

She explains that dreaming small means letting go of the idea you have to make a huge impact for something to be worthwhile. In her case, Bohannon had to reframe her goals and dreams so that impacting just one person was enough and a valuable use of her time and energy.

“That for me, it just totally unlocked momentum, action, energy,” she says. “I did go on to end up creating more than that, but I don’t think I would have if I felt like before I can even get started. I have to have a plan for how this is going to be huge and impactful and really successful.”

Bohannon has been able to grow Sseko from three women under a mango tree into a successful international fashion brand that provides employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities to thousands of women across the globe now.

Another concept she will explore is how to reconnect with your purpose. When unexpected curveballs are thrown your way, the strongest unifier and innovation-inducer is returning to the basics and embracing a renewed sense of purpose. She will teach attendees not how to find their purpose but build it.

While landscape professionals don’t have a lot in common with the fashion world, Bohannon says a beginner’s mindset applies to people across industries as everyone is trying to have better relationships that provide more fulfillment and purpose and make a difference in our work.

Want to foster a beginner’s mindset? Register for ELEVATE, and we’ll see you in Dallas, Texas!

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.