Rookie eyes

Rookie eyes

A constantly changing world requires a different mindset


Thriving in an age where change has become the new standard. It is the challenge we all face, no one excepted. And it demands a lot. To look beyond the horizon, to seek out boundaries, to find the unconventional, to imagine the unimaginable. Falling back on what we already know and appreciate will not help us in this rapidly evolving arena. On the contrary, a period of improvisation and innovation calls for a different mindset. A rookie mindset that is!

‘Which mindset?” you may now ask. ‘A rookie, that’s a beginner, right?’ Nope! Rookie mistake 😉 A rookie mind has nothing to do with age or experience. The rookie mindset refers only to how we think and act when we do something for the first time. It is the ability not to fall back on our knowledge and experiences from the past, but to continue to look at the world with an open mind. It is a state of mind, and the good news is: everyone has a rookie mind within them!

Why appealing to your rookie mind is becoming increasingly important

That sounds nice, ‘everyone has it in them’, but why should you? Well, this is the reason why. Since time immemorial, life has been divided into two complementary parts: a learning period followed by a working period. In the beginning of life, we have gathered information, developed our skills, formed our world view, and built a stable identity. In the second part of life, we use these learned skills to make our way in the world, earn a living and contribute to the society. But if you try to hold on to a stable identity, job, or worldview in the 21st century, you risk falling hopelessly behind.

#1 Knowledge becomes fleeting

This is primarily because knowledge has become fleeting. In the new world of work, innovations follow each other in such quick succession that more than 50% of what you know now may be totally irrelevant within 10 years. If you rely completely on knowledge and experience from the past, without continuing to develop yourself, you will be overtaken by time.

#2 Fossil-alert

In addition, life expectancy continues to rise. To continue to matter – not only economically, but also socially – you need to be able to learn and reinvent yourself constantly, especially at the young age of 50. Otherwise, there is a risk that you will have to spend decades as a kind of fossil.

#3 Agile organizations

Finally, there is the rise of the agile organization. New structures appear to be necessary to keep up with the unprecedented pace of change in technology and competitive landscape. Self-organizing, dynamic cultures are on the rise. Designed to give people the freedom to innovate creatively and to be constantly renewed.

So, what is this rookie mindset?

Okay, that is clear. Nobody wants to become an overtaken-by-time-un-manoeuvrable fossil. So, get started with that rookie mindset! But what does it actually mean?

Rookie minds have three key traits that are necessary to deal with the extraordinary opportunities that lie ahead. The first is an indomitable curiosity. That starts with a thirst for knowledge and understanding. An unsatisfactory hunger to continuously discover and learn. Always being open to new insights and new possibilities. Feeling free to wander and explore. To make new assumptions and act on them wholeheartedly. It is a continuous search for new ideas and unconventional angles.

And then there is that uncomplicated humility. This involves accepting that you don’t know everything and the ability to be open to the perspectives of others. When we recognise our own shortcomings and limitations, we are able to ask for advice or help and mobilise the expertise of others. Without suffering from an excessive ego or any concern about status.

This, of course, requires the courage to seek out your own vulnerability. It means having the courage to show yourself when you cannot control the output. Think of having difficult conversations, operating in situations of uncertainty, giving (and receiving) painful feedback, or taking difficult decisions. But also, to learn to pick yourself up after setbacks, failures and disappointments. After all, innovation and creativity do not exist without them.

In short …

Real change happens when we continue to look at the world through the eyes of a rookie. If we are able to tap into this optimistic and open-minded mindset, then everyone can contribute in their own passionate way to what really matters now. What is needed? The courage and determination to choose it! Oh yes…and a little practice of course.



A must-read book in relation to this blog: Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman.