Are you the same Bishop/President/Counselor/Teacher today as you were on week two of your calling? As you look back to the rookie you, are there ideas and a spark that made your new calling something exciting and your service such that benefited those you were called to serve? Has that changed if you’ve been in your calling for a while?

If so, Liz Wiseman’s book Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work might be worth a read. While the book is written for the business world, drawing correlations to your church calling will be easy. A BYU grad, Sister Wiseman has shared in this work key insights from the world of leadership and how maintaining a rookie mindset can help you better serve and bring fresh perspective to your efforts.

The best leaders are learners, and sometimes stepping outside of your status quo and asking a rookie what they would do in your situation can be enlightening. It may even help you recapture some of the same excitement and zeal you felt when you were first called. In this podcast, I share some of the take-aways I gained from reading the book and hope you’ll find reading “Rookie Smarts” as much help to you in your situation as I have in mine.


Basic outline for this episode (including links):

4 Mindsets of Rookies (these are behaviors not personality types)

  • Backpacker
    • Nothing to lose – Nothing is weighing them down
    • Open to new possibilities
    • Unencumbered with best practices
  • Caretaker (opposite of Backpacker)
    • A reputation and past record to uphold
    • Burdened with expectations which leads to defensiveness
    • Limit what is possible and stay on the safe path
  • Hunter-Gatherer
    • Disoriented and forced to pay close attention to their surroundings
    • Seek out experts
  • Local Guide (opposite of Hunter-Gatherer)
    • Stay with what is comfortable
    • Dole out advice rather than seeking it
    • Experience and knowledge give them a false sense of confidence
    • Think like an advisor and simply guide others
    • Look for data that confirms what they already know – maintain their existing beliefs
  • Firewalker
    • Operate cautiously but quickly
    • Small calculated steps always seeking feedback
  • Marathoner (opposite of Firewalker)
    • They have already proved themselves
    • Tend to pace themselves and have a “steady as she goes mentality”
    • Take big “proven” steps
    • They assume they are still doing a good job
  • Pioneer
    • Improvise and work tireless for basic needs
    • Keep things simple
    • Outside comfort zone
  • Settler (opposite of Pioneer)
    • Working within the establishment and have basic needs met
    • Focused on just maintaining comfort
    • They rely on what’s available
    • Follow protocol
    • Quote: “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” -Bill Gates p54
    • Everyone can get back to a rookie mindset.
  • Rookie smarts quiz (share your results in the comments)
  • Ways to get back to rookie mindset:
    • Ask naive questions
    • Wipe the slate
    • Let go of the monkey trap — release your resources
    • Teleport yourself
    • Multiply your expertise — build a network
    • Quote: “We find that not only do veterans tolerate rookie requests for guidance; they welcome the requests and want to help these protégés. Perhaps a mentoring gene kicks in. Brian Wong continues in his blog: ‘Many people forget that the simple statement ‘I’d love to learn from you’ opens more doors than anything you can imagine. It’s the ultimate statement of humility, respect, understanding, and curiosity. Through (numerical) aging, many of us forget to ask to learn. Maybe it’s because we think we know enough, or that we may be rejected, or that it sounds needy.'” p88
    • Reverse the mentoring — ask a junior colleague to mentor you
    • Borrow a job — swap callings for a week
    • Get your hands dirty — get close to the action
    • Disqualify yourself — take on a job out of your comfort zone *
    • Become a half expert — See how fast you can go halfway up the learning curf
    • Staple yourself to a problem — Attach yourself to a complex problem and let it drag you to a new place
  • Perpetual Rookie Traits
  • Curious
    • Quote: Henry Cloud said, “Certainty is one of the weakest positions in life. Curiosity is one of the most powerful. Certainty prohibits learning, curiosity fuels change.”
    • Don’t hesitate to let those you lead know you “don’t know” (bishop in counseling….let’s talk about it and see what we can come up with)
  • Humble
    • Quote: “Tomas Chamorro- Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London, says that this awareness of our limitations, this realistically lowered sense of self, is actually conducive to success. He states, “After many years of researching and consulting on talent, I’ve come to the conclusion that self- confidence is only helpful when it’s low. Sure, extremely low confidence is not helpful: it inhibits performance by inducing fear, worry, and stress, which may drive people to give up sooner or later.” He explains that just- low- enough confidence helps people recalibrate and causes them to pay attention to negative feedback, work harder and prepare more thoroughly, and avoid the appearance of arrogance and the delusions that often accompany hubris. p.107
  • Playful – believe that your calling should be fun
  • Deliberate Rekindling Rookie Smarts
    • Try to get fired
    • Throw out your notes – dismiss the best practices and develop new practices
    • Surf with the amateurs – go to primary once in a while

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