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Newbie Goggles

If something seems strange or different to you, that's a precious opportunity

Although most of my clients are leaders in professional roles that they expect to hold for the foreseeable future, it's not uncommon for me to work with someone as they navigate a transition and join a new organization. In that context, it is often useful to remind my client they possess a uniquely valuable asset that will eventually disappear: newbie goggles.

For most of us, most of the time, the various cultures that surround us are nearly undetectable. Behavioral norms, ways of working and communicating, the explanatory narratives that help us interpret and make sense of the world--these are generally taken for granted and rarely subject to interrogation and analysis. We're like fish in water, as the late writer David Foster Wallace once remarked:

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?" 

But when we're in a new role, in a new environment--even one that we've opted into because we believe it to be compatible with our needs and values--we are the proverbial fish out of water. Because we haven't fully internalized the surrounding culture, we don't yet take it for granted. Because we're wearing newbie goggles, we can suddenly see it in ways that the current members cannot.

Please select this link to read the complete blog post from Ed Batista. 

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