Relying on experience alone can lead to assumptions. Not having experience can leave you open to blindspots.

Either way, it's painful. It's disappointing. And, it's happened to me a lot.

Because I've been in six professional positions in eight years, I've unfortunately experienced this dichotomy often. Not knowing enough information and decisions have fallen short of expectations. Or, conversely, overlying on that gut feeling because I've seen this issue before. All are learning experiences. All made me question my leadership potential.

Despite the hand-wringing, I overcame my anxiety and disappointment in the choices I had made. When you're a leading a team or project, there is no break from making decisions. You have to make more decisions.

My personal and professional growth grew by an order of magnitude with each role, with each oversight, with each guess.

If you're astute and remain honest about the decisions you made β€” no post hoc justification β€” then you can consider the decisions an opportunity to shed your skin. Learning through the faults has enabled me to level up my leadership skills more quickly than the times I've made the right call, albeit without the pat on the back and "Atta boy!"

In fact, I'd take the inexperienced (self-motivated) professional more times than not.

Being the greenhorn isn't always a disadvantage. There's a significant upside in not knowing how something works entirely. If you're naturally inquisitive, it generates a lot of questions.

To a veteran, those persistent questions are a nuisance. "Why don't you know this already?" Or, even more discouraging, "Didn't they teach you anything in school?" Not very supportive.

As one of those pesky, interrogative types, I experienced a fair share of push back on ideas. A new big box grocery store builds a bus stop with a pull-out and concrete boarding and alighting area, and the boss says, "That won't work." We can't use it because the developer swept debris there. Oh, and our buses don't drive on that road in that direction. Instead, the bus travels on the on-ramp to a 55mph highway. But, we're transit planners, can't we change that?

Let's realign the route to give better access to the supermarket and ask our maintenance crew to pick up the debris. This real-life example played out over months.

Change takes effort. You have to have some fight in you to want to change.

Rather than see the world for what it is, you need people, specifically, I'd argue, naive people, to see the world for what it could be. It's challenging for urban planners, engineers, and other professionals that influence our built environment to think beyond what they've been taught.

It happens, but let's say it's infrequent and unlikely.

Give me the unsullied (self-driven) professional.

When you're green and ready to prove yourself, it's tough to have a long line of sight. You're instinct is to want to have the answer. I've certainly struggled with a faint headlight giving me just enough vision to take the next step.

That's okay. It's too be expected.

If you don't know, then say you don't know. More people need to say, "I don't know." I'm including myself on this point, even with some years of experience now.

Or, I risk being the one saying, "That won't work."

by @jlevimccollum

🚍 πŸ—ΊοΈ πŸ“Š Geographer working to build better government.