“You must have both rookie smarts and veteran savvy.”
–Liz Wiseman, Global Leadership Summit 2015
The book project intimated me. I have never written a feature story of this type, for such a project.
When the editor gathers all the writers, she tells us graciously, but firmly, that she would remove from the book project anyone she deems unskilled enough. I look around the room, noting that the guy sitting across me has worked as a journalist for years. Everyone in the room probably has much more writing experience than I.
I am the rookie.
All four of us are gathered around a table, and we begin the meeting.
And I marvel at the fact that I am part of this group. All the other three are pastors, all have at least about a decade of ministry under their belt. One has an MDiv and working on his MA in Philosophy, and another has an MA in Biblical Studies with vast connections and training experience.
And there am I, the rookie.
I loved every bit of today’s Global Leadership Summit Philippines (GLS) Manila, but something struck me from Liz Wiseman’s session Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing.
Rookies, she says, are inexperienced, but their advantage is that they tend to be more creative and more open to learning opportunities. She encourages the audience to think back to when they were rookies, how they struggled, but tended to be more resourceful.
“Think back to your rookie moments,” Wiseman says. And that’s when she goes on to say, “You must have both rookie smarts and veteran savvy.”
And it Just. Hit. Me. My rookie moment is NOW!
In the last couple of years I believe I have heard from the Heavens and finally identified several things I am passionate about and fields I would like to pursue: missions, apologetics, and arts, generally speaking. And as I identified these fields, God actually gave me opportunities actually for me to actually venture into these fields!
I am a rookie in all these fields, no expertise to show. I hope to be able to make significant contributions and give provide meaningful leadership in these areas in the future, but I am not there yet. I say this with no self-pity attached, but simply as an honest self-assessment: I am undeniably inexperienced, and lacking in savvy in these areas.
So what must a rookie do? I picked up some things from Wiseman’s (and some of Bill Hybels’) talk:
-See this period of inexperience and lack of knowledge as an opportunity to learn. “Knowing the least can draw out the best.” As they say, when you’re at the bottom, there is nowhere to go but up.
-At this season, one must ask questions! Ask questions and take responsibility to learn and discover.
-Take this opportunity to develop “grit” – a passion and perseverance for the long haul.
-Be with veterans who have “rookie smarts,” experts and leaders who are teachable, creative, and love to discover. These traits “…can actually rub off.” Seek these leaders, and seek to be in their company. Be mentored by them.
-When challenges come, see it as an opportunity to learn and move forward.
-Learn and move forward, because a rookie has no other choice. No, wait, actually there is another choice – and that is to move backward, regress, refuse to grow.
-Develop self-awareness. Work through your character issues. Get help from people close to you. Get professional help if necessary. We all have our issues, and getting help should be seen as a favour we do to ourselves and to the people we will eventually lead (and relate with).
-Invest in relationships. Not the user-friendly kind for building platforms, but real, honest relationships where you could be both vulnerable and affirmed.
-Affirm your purpose. Affirm the purpose that made you start out in the first place. Affirm your “why,” otherwise you’d be lost. Or, if you haven’t found your “White-hot Why,” as Bill Hybels calls it, then discover it. Discover your priority.
So to my fellow dear beginners, rookies who are starting out but wish to accelerate in their companies, who wish to contribute to their organizations, who want to advance in their respective fields, who want to change the world… we are at a special phase.
Let’s take this as an opportunity to grow and learn.
We will eventually develop our savvy, but for now, let’s be smart. And when we finally do develop our savvy, hopefully we also retain our rookie smarts.