Don’t let routine prevent you from making good decisions  

You’re probably considered an expert in certain areas. What if a newcomer proposes a better solution, though? If only you’d come up with that proposal yourself…


Even if you’re an old hand, it can be a good idea to assume a ‘rookie smart’ mindset and switch off that autopilot on occasion. What is this mindset, and how can you make yourself take a fresh look at familiar situations?  


Experience doesn’t necessarily predict success


The fact that you have experience isn’t always a guarantee of success. On the contrary. Sometimes, experience creates blind spots, as you tend to apply your intuition to new opportunities. That doesn’t always lead to the best solutions, unfortunately. Once a habit becomes established, our brains stop working. That can make it harder for us to receive new information and involve others in decisions. Adopting young talents’ mindset can be a good way to avoid this issue. 

‘Rookie smart’, a useful mindset 

Having new talents on your team can be a good way to move forward on problems. How? Why? Their relative lack of experience makes them more willing to tap others’ knowledge and skills. They propose solutions that experienced team members ignored. Ultimately, this improves your entire team’s performance. Leadership expert Liz Wiseman calls this approach to thinking and working ‘rookie smarts’.  

If you can teach yourself to assume a ‘rookie smart’ mindset despite your experience, it will make you an important asset to your team when it comes to taking decisions. Those who can manage to adopt this mindset increase their impact on others’ individual performance. After all, that’s where novices excel. How can you embrace this mindset as an experienced professional?  

From backpacker to settler


The ‘rookie smart’ mindset is characterised by four modes of behaviour: 


  1. Backpacker: has nothing to lose and travels the world unencumbered by baggage. Has the space and freedom to explore new opportunities (and places).
  2. Hunter-gatherer: stays aware of their surroundings and accepts others’ advice. 
  3. Firewalker: makes small, well-considered moves, acts fast and relies on constant feedback to keep them on the right path. 
  4. Pioneer: explores unfamiliar and awkward territory, improvises and works tirelessly.  

Alternatively, other modes of behaviour can hinder new perspectives: 


  1. Keeper: relies on earlier successes and approaches to maintain the status quo. 
  2. Local guide: knows their environment well, isn’t looking for new information, sticks with what’s known and provides advice. 
  3. Marathon runner: believes in their own capabilities and maintains a steady pace. Takes decisions on autopilot, without involving others. 
  4. Settler: stays firmly in their comfort zone, adhering to processes and approaches that have proved their worth. 

Maintaining a spirit of curiosity

These habits of behaviour should be recognisable to all of us. Under certain circumstances, we may act like a ‘rookie’, while falling back on familiar routines in others. As humans, we prefer to stay in our comfort zones, meaning it can take conscious effort to adopt a ‘rookie smart’ mindset. Realising when you are making decisions on autopilot gets you most of the way there, though. Ask yourself such questions as, “Why am I doing it this way?”, “What other options are there?”, “What can I still learn?”, consider your answers and use them to improve. 

Check whether you’re stuck in a rut


Are you still open to learning, or are you unconsciously seeking out your comfort zone under certain conditions? If the latter applies, deliberately look for situations where you won’t be able to rely on your experience. Often, this will force you to reconsider your decisions and start acting like a rookie.  

Learn something new every day


If you look for new insights and situations daily, this will eventually improve your job satisfaction. Once you’ve established such practices, you will be a rookie for life, eager to tackle new challenges. You’ll also stay aware of all the latest trends, a nice additional benefit. 

Experience can be both good and bad


While experience helps you get your daily tasks done, it may prevent you from getting the most out of certain situations. It’s a double-edged sword. Leaving a comfort zone can feel like a risk, but also be more gratifying for the same reason. By taking the occasional risk and assuming a ‘rookie smart’ mindset, you force yourself to think and act like a novice.  

Once you’ve embraced this mindset, you’ll stay a rookie forever. Allowing you to make better choices. 

Ready for that ‘rookie smart’ mindset?


Go for it! Prefer to gain your organisation the benefits of a ‘rookie smart’ mindset by adding young talents to your team?  

We’re more than happy to help you with your search. 

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