icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-email icon-facebook icon-linkedin icon-print icon-rss icon-search icon-stumbleupon icon-twitter icon-arrow-right icon-user Skip to content
Senior Correspondent

Inexperience is underrated.

Inexperienced people enjoy the courage of ignorance. They say, “Why not” rather than “we tried that.” Ignorance allows them to see what could be. They see fewer problems and more opportunities. They try because they haven’t failed.

Stupid and experienced:

Benjamin Franklin said, “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” I’ve enabled my stupidity by working hard at not changing. Looking back, I see how I tended to employ the same methods too long hoping results would magically change. I kept thinking it will work rather than acknowledging it wasn’t.

I’m the victim of perseverance gone wrong.

Right experience:

Thomas Edison wisely said, “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Edison didn’t, however, spend his life performing the same failed experiment, in the same way; over and over again.

The wisdom of perseverance is adaptability.

Today, I’m including inexperienced people in my circle of friends. They challenge me to adapt. All I need do is shut up and listen.

Three benefits of inexperience:

  1. Open minds.
  2. Quick to complain.
  3. Don’t know it can’t be done.

Three drawbacks of the inexperience:

  1. Talking too much.
  2. Neglecting relationships.
  3. Discounting ramifications.

Six strategies for leveraging the inexperienced:

  1. Character matters more than experience. Go with character.
  2. Core leadership competencies matter more than subject matter expertise. An ignorant person with leadership skills goes further than an expert who can’t lead.
  3. Challenge them to move through complaining to developing next steps.
  4. Avoid explaining what can’t be done.
  5. Fuel their courage. Encourage them frequently and listen intently.
  6. Give and receive constant feedback.

Stop working hard to remain stupid. Leadership is about inexperience — doing things you haven’t already done — and learning as you go.


What other drawbacks and benefits do the inexperienced bring?

How might leaders or organizations better leverage the inexperienced?


Stay Up to Date

Sign up for articles by Dan Rockwell and other Senior Correspondents.

Latest Stories

Choosing Senior Living
Love Old Journalists

Our Mission

To amplify the voices of older adults for the good of society

Learn More