Executive Coaching & Leadership

Remembering How it Feels to be a Novice

man studying in library
Excellence At Work with Dr. Marilyn combines faith and tenacity to help individuals achieve excellence through keynote speaking engagements, individual and corporate coaching, training, meeting facilitation, and retreats. Whether working with an individual client or a team, the focus is on the... Read More

This week I had the opportunity to baby sit an “almost” ten year old for a few days. I have to be honest, I have not been responsible for a little person since I was a teenager; and then it was for only a few hours. Whew, I’m glad to report we have both made it to the end of the week, neither of us cut, bruised, or (as far as I can tell) emotionally wounded. But seriously, at the beginning of the week I was SCARED. Scared because I knew I was about to be removed from my comfort zone of dealing with adults in the workplace (who can sometimes show childlike traits but don’t generally require constant supervision).

Now of course I was pretty sure I could care for the youngster’s basic needs but could I do it while providing a comfortable experience? Looking back on the week, my take away was being reminded that we are often capable of achieving more than we give ourselves credit for; especially when our backs are against the wall or we’re staring an “activity ready” nine year old in the face.

On an additionally enlightened note, this week reminded me of a CEO I coached a few years back. At that time one of the core issues we worked on was his ability to recall what it felt like to be new and not fully competent at a task. As it was for me, it was most helpful to place him in a situation that brought back those feelings (since it had been several years since he was a novice in the business arena) because it gave him the empathy necessary to lead his new team members through a particularly difficult learning curve.

Here are a few ideas you might wish to use the next time you or your team are about to embark upon a new business challenge or baby sit for the first time in years. In short, experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from mistakes by:

  • Setting up little experiments and developing models that provide opportunities for successful outcomes without tears
  • Making it safe for others to experiment or finger paint as the case may be
  • Breaking limiting mindsets, break them up and break them down
  • Giving people choices about how they get their work done
  • Accumulating yeses with the understanding their may be a few nos along the way
  • Admitting your mistakes and accepting learning curves
  • Conducting pre and postmortems for every project to learn from every experience
  • Laughing, laughing, then laughing some more because life is simply too short not to learn from a child or the guy in the next cubical as the case may be