How to Be a Smart Novice and Stop Hurting Yourself and Others

Novelty makes novices of us all.

Every time you try something new, you’re a novice all over again.

Dangers of inexperience:

You thought you understood parenting until you had children. You thought you understood leading until you earned a spot at the table. The inexperienced…

  1. Think they know when they don’t.
  2. Under-estimate difficulties.
  3. Listen to idiots.
  4. Fail to consider consequences.

Experience is the ability to avoid unnecessary pitfalls while achieving great results. But the naive unintentionally inflict pain on themselves.

False confidence:

When you do something stupid, it hurts.

Inexperience inflicts unnecessary pain on itself and the people around.

The advantage of over-confidence is courage. But a novice’s confidence is based on ignorant optimism.

Confident novices imagine success, ignore the cost of progress, and disregard the pain of failure.

Unintentional failure doesn’t justify unnecessary pain.

How to avoid self-inflicted pain:

Watch your words:

Blowhard novices make fools of themselves and destroy trust, while they stumble off cliffs.

  1. Express frustration and irritation at the right time and to the right people.
  2. Learn what others know before talking about what you think you know.

A skillful novice asks questions before making statements. For example…

Who has done this before? What might they know that I should know?

Consider consequences:

Novices love spontaneity and ignore consequences.

  1. Who are the stakeholders in this initiative? How will this course of action impact stakeholders?
  2. What unintentional consequences might happen on this course of action?

3 strategies when facing new situations:

Three things protect leaders from unnecessary pain when they’re trying something new.

  1. Scan the roadway ahead. Look around.
  2. Choose a speed appropriate for conditions. Adapt when situations change.
  3. Establish and focus on clear goals and objectives. Avoid distraction.

(Adapted from NSC)

What pitfalls await novice-leaders? (Remember that you’re a novice when you try something new.)

How might leaders overcome the pitfalls of inexperience?

Bonus material:

How New Bosses can Lead without Experience (Fast Company)

The Top 10 Pitfalls of Inexperienced Management Teams (CBS)