The curse of experience



I know I’m getting older when I step on a regional jet and the pilot looks like he just graduated from high school. Truth is, I want a pilot with experience not someone who learned to fly on the Sony Playstation. : )

Yet, while I desire a pilot with experience it occurred to me that experience is not always a good thing.

In fact sometimes experience can be a curse. Such as when your experience in business causes you to focus on the good ole days; when everyone was making money; when everyone was successful; when life was easier; when you didn’t have to go after business, it came to you.

I’ve noticed that in this economy a lot of people are inflicted with the curse of experience. They complain about the way things are, long for the way things were and dream about what could have been….if the economy didn’t crash.

The good news is that there is a simple antidote to the curse of experience and it is to Think Like a Rookie.
Rookies don’t have experience. They don’t know about the way things were. They have no knowledge of the good ole days. Instead rookies create their good ole days right now.

Rookies put their head down, work hard, stay positive, live fearlessly and are naïve enough to be successful.

I recently spoke at a national sales meeting for a Fortune 500 company. The President, while speaking on stage, recognized a rookie sales person for winning a big account. The President said about the rookie, “He didn’t know that what he asked for to win the account doesn’t usually happen. He didn’t know that you just don’t ask for it. If he was a veteran he would have just assumed the answer would be no. But he did ask and the answer was yes.”

Rookies aren’t tainted by rejection, negative assumptions or past experiences. Rookies don’t focus on what everyone says is impossible. Instead, with wide eyes they believe anything is possible. They bring an idealism, optimism and passion to their work and because they believe in the future they take the necessary actions to create it.

So, regardless of how much experience you have in your industry and profession I want to encourage you to let your experience be a blessing not a curse. Let your experience provide you with expertise and let your rookie mindset fuel you with optimism and passion.

Mentor the rookies because, for all their effort and energy they do make mistakes. And yet, let them teach you how to see the world through their eyes.

Think Like a Rookie, forget the past, and create your good ole days right now.