Leadership and Main

Bettering Others and the World You Live In

Experience or Inexperience

Experience or inexperience

Experience or inexperience, which one is the most valuable? Most people would probably quickly respond with experience, and rightfully so. If we take just a minute to wrestle with this question, maybe it is not as easy to answer as we think.

My son Grant turned fourteen this weekend. We celebrated it by heading to Blue Ridge, Georgia for a day of trout fishing. My brother Steven and my nephew Tucker joined Grant and I for the trip. Two experienced, veteran fishermen and two less experienced ones. While Grant and Tucker love fishing and do so quite frequently, they were not as familiar with the mountain fishing experience.

The two-hour trip home through the North Georgia mountains offered some time for reflection. In space, random insights typically emerge in my brain. We know there is value in experience, but is there value in inexperience I asked myself?

This week, let’s explore inexperience and the value that it can bring to a team. Here are the four benefits that crossed my mind:


As most fishing trips end, we didn’t catch as many fish as we would have liked. That was my brother and I’s perspective, because we have fished that same river and have caught our legal limits. The boys, they were good. Being one of their first trips floating down the river, their perspective was different. They didn’t know any better.

When developing a team, choosing inexperienced over experienced is high risk, high reward. Inexperienced candidates, internal or external, bring a different perspective. The unique perspective that they bring to the team is…that do not have one, it doesn’t limit them.


Grant, Tucker, and I stayed in Ellijay, Georgia the night before. My brother met us in Blue Ridge the next morning. The entire ride up, I listened to the boys’ genuine excitement about the fishing trip. They were eagerly anticipating catching fish. It was infectious.

Without their enthusiasm, my fishing experience could have easily put a damper on their enthusiasm. My experience was telling me that fishing is typically best in the morning and trout fishing is best in cooler weather. We didn’t get an early enough start in my mind and it was the middle of summer Georgia hot. My experience told me we wouldn’t catch fish, their optimism caught fish.

People with less experience offer more enthusiasm and overall excitement. They are not as battle tested and have less scars to show. They tend to look optimistically forward through the windshield rather than pessimistically stuck in the rear view.


My brother and I’s go to bait are Mike’s Pink Salmon Eggs. If that doesn’t work, Rooster Tails,or Rapala’s. Our experience tells us these three things will catch fish. Limiting ourselves to these three things will also not catch fish!

The night before I took the boys to Walmart to pick up a few supplies for the trip. Grant and Tucker looked at any and all options to catch fish. They were interested in trying new and innovative types of baits, different colors, flavors, shapes, sizes, they were open to anything.

Innovation can be generated through inexperience. Too often our experience scorns our innovation. If we all look back, some of our greatest innovations came in the least experienced stages of our career. None of us deferred to the tried and true because…we didn’t know any better! We hadn’t lived through how things didn’t work, we operated consistently in a world of what could work.


The boys asked a lot of questions. They questioned our direction of travel, our bait selection, and our overall strategy of catching…or not catching fish. Their curiosity challenged our experiences to the river, on the river, and from the river. Their questions opened up our mind to possibilities that our experiences had shut out.

Inexperience leads to inquisitiveness in the world of leadership. It’s kind of like parenting, when you tell your kid to do something and their classic response is, “why?” As much as it naturally comes to the tip of your tongue, “just because” is not a suitable answer in leadership. It stifles curiosity and impedes the development of people. Inexperienced leaders who ask good questions make experienced leaders better.


Personally, I think if you are limiting your selection process to a certain level of experience, you are doing you and your organization a disservice.  We should think a little more independently in the process and challenge ourselves to be more unconventional.

I tend to subscribe to a few principals when looking for what Patrick Lencioni calls the, “Ideal Team Player.”  One, they fit Lencioni’s model of being humble, hungry, and smart (people smart).  I highly recommend checking out the book.  Two, find the right person for the position.  Three, hire a quality person and develop skills.  Hiring a less than stellar person with all the skills in the world never works.

None of these principles discount experience, but none of them exclude inexperience either.  So back to the original question, “Experience and inexperience, which one is the most valuable?”  You decide.

Grateful for you taking the time to read this post!  Like what you read?  Share this post with your friends and followers with the icons provided below.  Are you interested in joining us on this leadership journey and having these posts delivered to your inbox weekly?  Subscribe here.  Would love for you to connect with us on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Share this post