When You're the Inexperienced Newcomer

Afraid you won't measure up?
a ruler on a desk
The other day* I was having coffee with a friend from work** and she was telling me about being a little nervous about attending her first board meeting at a non-profit. She expressed that the other board members were more advanced in their careers, very experienced, and she'd be the youngest member by far. 

I know we've all been in a similar situation - where we know that the other people we are interacting with are so much more experienced, accomplished, knowledgeable, or what-have-you than we are. 

And although it is normal to question whether or not we even belong there, it's zero fun to feel inadequate.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that perhaps when I find myself in that situation, it is an opportunity for someone to be generous with me. That someone might be looking for an opportunity to share their knowledge and wisdom with a newbie like me and all I need to do is be open to it. 

While it can show up in the form of full on take-you-under-their-wing guidance, it often shows up in more subtle (but no less important) ways like making sure you get several chances to speak during a meeting.

Anyway, I offered that sentiment to my friend from work and it resonated. 

The next time you are feeling nervous about measuring up to more established professionals, try it on for size: This could be an opportunity for someone to be generous with me. 

And in the same vein, when you find yourself on the other side of the proverbial tables, look for ways you can be generous with the newbies.

*I typically don't write about events in strict sequence. The "other day" could have been 10 years ago, 10 months ago, or 10 days ago.

**There isn't a good word for someone you know professionally, don't work with directly (e.g., they are at another organization), but have friendly relationship where you talk about more than work stuff and more than cursory small talk. "Friend from work" doesn't exactly describe it but it is as close as I've got.