This book pretty much confirmed what I had experienced myself years ago. I started working in a large hospital many years ago and had five different positions in 8 years, each successful if I say so myself. The amazing thing was that I did not have a background in health care, nor in management, nor in HRM. Yet I performed well in each of these disciplines.
The reason? Rookie Smarts.
Author Liz Wiseman shows in this fascinating book Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work that it doesn’t matter that much anymore what you know, or even who you know (though the latter is still helpful). What matters is how fast you learn, how eager you are, how much you want to succeed in your job or task.
She calls it rookie smarts and with relevant theories and many stories, the author demonstrates how and why unexperienced, eager and humble newbies are outperforming veterans. It’s a humbling lessons for experts in the field who rely too much on what they know and thus forget to connect with stakeholders for instance, get the opinion of others, or stop learning because they are convinced they know it all.
Is the answer then to hire only rookies? Nope.
It’s about mixing veterans with rookies, but also about keeping a rookie mentality, even as a veteran. There’s the famous professor forever who throws away his teaching notes each year to give his next round of students the best, most fresh insights he has. There’s the world renowned surfer who surfs with the newbies to learn from them. And that’s just a few examples on how to stay hungry and fresh, even when you do have experience.
The book is well written with a highly readable mix of personal stories, research and stories from various companies. Each chapter ends with a helpful overview/summary that helps bring the key message home. It’s definitely one of the best and most helpful books I have read this past year!
For me, it was illuminating to see my own experiences quantified and qualified. I loved working in that hospital, even when I was amazed at the responsibilities they gave me. And I made my fair share of mistakes, believe me. But my learning curve was steep…and deeply satisfying. I’ve never forgotten the thrill of learning new skills and knowledge and that rookie mentality is my philosophy ever since.