The Rookie Advantage
William Nozak CEO of Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice
When you were new, you did not give up; you persisted, assuming nothing, frankly, because you knew nothing. You knew there was no way back, so you pushed forward. You made it up, innovated, or found others that knew. You looked for those that had cracked the ‘code’ per se. You saw possibility, moved the world, sought after help, collaborated, read, searched and found what you needed. What a rookie.
There is something to be said about the rookie advantage. How often do those with ‘the answers’ overlook contrary findings? I mean if you are the incumbent, what need do you have of novel thinking? You already know the patterns. Seeking input, finding innovative possibilities, and not being controlled by past scars, gives the rookie an advantage. I do not mean to diminishing experience, which is where journeys lead. The Rookie Advantage must be retained through the journey.
How often does an expert team retort an idea with I have tried that it does not work, thunderously ending all thinking on alternative, augmentation, and approach. For the experienced, often the gap between what is known and what is envisioned widens. All of a sudden, we are naked. Insecurity immobilizes us. Instead of audacious, fearless innovation, we feel panicky fear. The illusionist -fear of failure- is frightening, so we run to security and warmth. Instantly, we morph, devolve into a puppet with tailored contributions, with boxed-up, over-analyzed risk. Never again to discover the big win.
The rookie advantage is speed and innovation. Desperation makes you think and act quickly. The paranoid survive. Through success, contribution happens. Through contribution learning and experience occur. These transformations are inevitable. The erudite thrives by retaining her rookie advantage.
Is the loss of the rookie advantage inescapable? No. Never get comfortable; never settle in. The following are suggestions to maintain or reunite you to your rookie advantage. If your inquiry came from a form of incompetence or not knowing then spend more time in jobs for which you are unqualified. Approach your work as you are doing it the very first time. Never be satisfied with the new and ever changing status quo. Stay humble and curious. Be willing to learn from anyone and everyone, vertically or horizontally. Allow your work to be fun. Be deliberate. Try to retain your routine that allowed you to tap into your rookie advantage. Remember learning snowboarding or skiing? You practiced on the green slopes, you fell, and then you learned to fall, you tried to turn, failed, then learned the mechanics to turn. You were slow, steady and deliberate, willing and cautiously daring. It was fun, it got your blood flowing, you learned and appreciated the knowledge passed down, but remained willing to try something unscripted. Now that you are on the double black diamonds, you have your style, your way of doing things. Failure can mean injury. To remember what it was like to be a newcomer, the rookie, the first-timer, go back to the greens and revitalize your point of view. Find those rituals that gave you that rookie advantage. Re-read the books that inculcated you to the scholar you are. Rekindle relationships that flourished in your rookie advantage. Visit the coffee shops, the friends, the places.
You inspired others when you were in your rookie advantage shoes. Remember the zeal, passion, energy, and enjoyment that defined your motions and get back to your rookie advantage. Make another million doing it. Every year I taught Anatomy & Physiology, I reread the text, the same material by other authors, and new texts that bridged the knowledge gained to knowledge unknown. This kept me fresh and advantaged. It added more and more to my reflexive memory and reminded me that 10% of everything we do is behind us and 90% is still in front. Find a way to molt your beliefs, practices, routines, and skin in order to occupy your rookie space.
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