The "rookie attitude" for making amazing things happen, and continuing the trend.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

A number of years back I was in a meeting where a leader professed his enjoyment of working with new "rookie" employees and the excitement that came with it. I was not surprised when some in the crowd offered a contrary perspective regarding inexperience, the training burden and the "baby sitting" that needs to be done - I may be paraphrasing slightly when I use the term "baby sitting" but that's more or less what some were saying.  

The leader, after offering some thoughts on the definition of "leadership" and the apparent lack there of, pointed out that he really liked the energy someone new brings to the job and the opportunity to be involved with "all that potential". He went on to say, "Sure they make 'rookie mistakes'. But sometimes, because they don't know any better, can make amazing things happen". This has resonated with me for years.

In this context, I should point out a "rookie" refers to anyone new to an endeavour and not just the 21 year old standing on the pitching mound with the 100 mph fastball - This is probably a good point for a reminder that being a rookie is something all of us, in one role or another has been (and probably more than once)... not to mention that all of us have made that so called "rookie mistake" (and probably more than once). In my experience, this is something that tends to get forgotten along the way.... definitely the leader I spoke of earlier thought so.

Aside from cutting "rookies" some slack because we have all been there, it needs to be recognized there is a fundamental perspective that rookies have which we need to continue tapping into; something that many of us loose as our experience and achievements snowball and something we need to continue our momentum. As they say, "rookies don't know any better", but as you gain some experience and achievement under your belt it is expected that "you do know better" - Here in lies a problem and an opportunity. 

When you "don't know any better" you are forever looking to achieve and grow, whereas when you "know better" you are looking to protect what you have - In effect curtailing the drive that comes with "not knowing any better" so you can maintain what you have, forever worring about losing what you have gained:

  • "I've done that before and that was a waste of time"
  • "I know all about that, it is too risky"
  • "I won't do that. I've worked too hard to get this far"
  • "Sounds like a great opportunity but that's not where my expertise is"
  • "etc"

I am not questioning the value of the experience that comes from the trials and tribulations of work and life (in fact it's crucial) , but rather suggesting rookies put it all out there and are not impacted with the considerations and doubts as a result of experience and lessons learned. It is about maintaining the balance of experience and achievements with the "rookie attitude" that allows you to continue making amazing things happen, and resist that urge to stop, maintain and protect.

Of course this is easier said than done, but here are some ideas that come to mind: 

  • Remove the term "retirement" from your lexicon.
  • Cultivate the "rookie attitude" by adopting new technology.
  • If you are in a position to hire a "rookie" - Do it.
  • Search out rookie friends and colleagues. Talk to them and listen to them - Their attitude is infectious.
  • Make a point to trying something new that makes you uncomfortable.
  • Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen if you do something with all the gusto of a rookie. And then weigh that against the benefits.
  • Remember life is short and as the saying goes, "If not now, when?"

And lastly, the time of being a rookie is just so much fun*. That alone should be a good enough reason to strive for that "rookie attitude" and go after whatever is in front of you with gusto, no matter how much experience you have.


* Spend some time thinking about your "rookie" days and I will guarantee a smile comes to your face and you say to yourself, "Yes ... it was so much fun"

The "White space"* that so infrequently gets used...

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

Whitespace seems to be one of those terms that is blessed with a wide array of definitions - Who knew?

  • White space is the empty space in a design. White space is used to separate disparate design elements and group similar ones. White space is the lack of graphics or text in the layout.
  • White space, in a communications context, refers to under utilized portions of the radio frequency (RF) spectrum.
  • White space, in computer science, is any character or series of characters that represent horizontal or vertical space in typography.
  • White space is a process management concept described by Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache in 1991 as the area between the boxes in an organizational chart—where, very often, no one is in charge.
  • White space is an esoteric programming language developed by Edwin Brady and Chris Morris at the University of Durham (also developers of the Kaya and Idris programming languages).
  • The White Space (Italian: Lo spazio bianco) is a 2009 Italian drama film directed by Francesca Comencini.

And finally the definition that came to mind first (although it seems to be used so infrequency, let alone recognized as an important practice):

  • White space is time to provide the opportunity to think.

Or... ponder, reflect, deliberate, consider, meditate, contemplate, muse, ruminate, be lost in thought, be in a brown study, rack one's brains or put on one's thinking cap. 

Something, that in a culture where it can be said "busy is glorified" we just don't seem to do enough of. Mostly I wonder if it is because "thinking" just doesn't seem "busy enough"... it is rare thing indeed to hear someone say they spent their Friday night "thinking".

My humble aim here is to offer a thought or two regarding why it's worth considering "White space for thinking time" as an important practice, and not necessarily how to free up your time to find it - My experience is if you think something is important enough, you will find the time. I should also point out that at no level do I want to go down the bunny hole of "thinking as a philosophy", "frameworks of thinking" or anything of that ilk, but rather the recognition of how important it is to set aside time for thinking.

Thinking: the process of using one's mind to consider or reason about something.

As an important consideration, it should be pointed out that thinking, real thinking, is a solitary activity. So in the context of "White space", it specifically refers to time alone to think... you, by yourself, left to ponder whatever needs pondering. Thinking feeds everything you will be involved with - 

  • Planning
  • Brainstorming
  • Conversation
  • Presentation
  • Action
  • Interpretation
  • Implementation

It goes without saying (and I am certain there is data to back this up), the more you have thought about something, the higher the quality or probability for success in whatever you are involved with.

It is probably also worth pointing out that planning sessions, braining storming sessions and meetings are not for thinking, but rather to bring thoughts together to drive tangible action forward; the more cynical may suggest that's more of a "stretch goal" at the best of times. These meetings do not become a default for real thinking - White space for thinking time is needed drive better planning and execution and needs to find its way onto your calendar for "you, yourself and I".

Whether you agree with me or not, it is worth thinking about it. Have you freed up some White space?


* As always thank you Google and Wikipedia.

The arts of man through all the years, and the light that guides us all.

The following is the original and the rewrite can be found by clicking here.

I did a very "city thing" on the weekend and went to the museum. I've been there many times before, but this is the first time since I started my "city living experiment"; it seemed my new city perspective guided me differently as I walked the halls.

In the past, I tended to find myself staring at the bones of giant creatures that inhabited the earth hundreds of millions of years ago, imaging their ferocity and wondering if I could out run them if the need arose. This time however, I seemed to wander the years a little closer to home... 4000 BC to 300 AD. Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Ancient Israel, Rome - All great civilizations of the past.

Artifacts, instead of bones, would tell the story and feed the imagination; mosaics, pottery, glass, fine jewelry, paintings, sculptures, architecture, tools and weapons, as well as all of the utensils, furniture and trappings of every day life... all recognizable, and narratives for those kindred spirits through all the years.

For me, it was the simplest of things that ignited my imagination... the numerous examples of "oil lamps" that seemed to fill the display cases, irrespective of civilization or century; small containers of various shapes and ornateness that used animal fat to illuminate the world.  

I could not help but imagine someone 4000 years ago, their oil lamp by their side pushing back the darkness as they wrote down their thoughts, crafted something of importance, shared ideas or visualized their dreams and wishes for a better day - A symbol that bound them, independent of time or place.

Engraved on the outside of the Royal Ontario Museum are the words, "THE ARTS OF MAN THROVGH ALL THE YEARS", which shamefully I had never noticed before, but will not soon forget. These words remind us that we are part of a community that has stretched past our ability to remember the countless individuals that came before us, except of course, though those "ARTS" they created and used; it is in this, their legacy seems to be secure.

Literally or figuratively we must light that lamp, push back the darkness and write down our thoughts, craft things of importance, share ideas or visualize the dreams and wishes for a better day - An ongoing need to contribute to "THE ARTS OF MAN", as someone, 2000 years from now, will be looking and imaging us in the darkness with the light of the computer on our faces.

Next week, a trip to the art gallery.