Video: In an increasingly public world, it's terrifying to try some new skill and be viewed as a rookie. However, if you can't get comfortable feeling new, you're going to have a hard time improving. An ideal rookie is enthusiastic and unconcerned with how they appear. They will practise and screw up and get back up without really thinking about it. However, people who are experienced or used to being an expert can become uncomfortable with the idea of returning to the bottom of the totem pole. This makes it really hard to learn new skills. As Andi Stevenson, executive director of the Lee Institute in Charlotte, explains:
Awards, promotions, even our own social media, they highlight what we already do well. But that can create a very subtle pressure to be perfect. To think that we have to be the ideal employee, the perfect parent, the best community leader. We can almost fetishise talent and prioritise it over courage. We can become trapped by the expectation of expertise and the fear of incompetence.
Expecting perfection without practise is inherently illogical, but as experienced adults, we do it all the time. Once you've got a steady job doing something you're good at, it's scary to return to a time where you're awkward, uncomfortable and have no idea what you're doing. If you can get over that fear, though, you can keep adding to your skill set over time.
The Importance of Being a Rookie [TEDxCharlotte]