Your surprising super power: inexperience!

inexperienceHave you ever thought that your inexperience might be your super power?

In leadership seminars I took many years ago, I consistently heard the phrase, “knowledge is power.” But is it always?

Sometimes the more you know, the less you see, because you think you have nothing new to learn. Just like a computer with too much data, it just might slow you down.

I have also found that naivete and inexperience can be powerful allies in life.

Years ago I was at a party and walked into a room where a group of friends were playing on a small pool table. Curious, I asked what they were playing.

“Pocket billiards. Want to play?

“Sure,” I replied, “what do I do?”

Pointing to the various pockets and handing me a cue, my friend said, “shoot this ball into this pocket and that ball into this other pocket,” etc., etc.

Much to my friends’ amazement, I did exactly that, because I was too naïve and inexperienced to know it was supposed to be hard!

So there was a super power I didn’t know I had.

Why inexperience in business can be a gold mine

My story is an example of why organizations willing to bring in smart people with no experience in their field can get the benefit of people able to think outside the box; they have no self-imposed limitations.

David K. Williams, of Fishbowl, embraces the concept of hiring people with little to no experience.

He first looks for what he calls the 7 Non-Negotiables:

  • Respect,
  • Belief,
  • Loyalty,
  • Commitment,
  • Trust,
  • Courage and
  • Gratitude.

These are good qualities to have for success in any area of life.

Williams also says the inexperienced come with:

  • Room for growth
  • No bad habits to break
  • Fresh ideas

He’s found that, “when someone is eager and excited to excel, and is given the environment to thrive in, miracles transpire.”

I wholeheartedly agree. When I was hiring staff for my former firm, I usually went for someone smart and eager over someone with loads of experience. Give me someone with no preconceived ideas of how the job should be done, teach them the job, and let them grow and shine and bring new perspective.

The people I hired under those values almost always proved me right.

The value of shoshin

In 1989, Liz Wiseman took her first job out of business school with a mid-size startup called Oracle. With no experience, she was recruited as a technical trainer; a year later she was promoted to manage the training department.

In retrospect, Wiseman, who has written three books and now heads her own consulting company, says, “My real value didn’t come from having fresh ideas. It was having no ideas at all. When you know nothing you’re forced to create something.”

It’s what Zen Buddhists refer to as shoshin or, “beginner’s mind.” That’s an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki in Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

Did Orville Wright have a pilot’s license?

Here’s your answer:

Orville Wright did not have a pilot’s license.” –slogan used at Facebook to warn

hiring managers not to overly focus on credentials.

Today, most everyone has heard of the Wright Brothers, the two Americans who invented, built and flew the first successful airplane. But at the time they were working on it, no one knew who they were.

According to Simon Sinek in his popular TED.com talk, in the early 20th Century the pursuit of powered human flight was the dot.com of its day. Everyone was trying it.

While the Wright Brothers worked in anonymity, there was one man working on developing human flight who was practically a celebrity: Samuel Pierpont Langley.

In 1898, Langley, a highly experienced scientist and inventor, was given $50,000 by the U.S. War Department to create a piloted airplane. That was a lot of money back then.

A few hundred miles away from Langley, the Wright Brothers had no money and little experience, but they had a dream and believed they could do it. It’s said that every time the Wright Brothers went out on their plane, they would bring along five sets of parts, because that’s how many times they would crash before dinner.

On December 17, 1903, they successfully took flight and no one was even there to watch it. The nation found out about it a few days later.

When the Wright Brothers took flight, Langley quit. He wasn’t even motivated to offer to help the Wright Brothers and say, let me help you make it better. Langley wasn’t first, and didn’t get rich or famous, so he quit.

So if you’re someone in a position to hire, give the inexperienced a chance and you may be wonderfully surprised.

If you’re looking for a job or to start a new project, don’t let your inexperience hold you back. Your passion and enthusiasm may take you much further than you expect.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Goethe






Molly Larkin

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller "The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman”  and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com

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