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Make Inexperience Your Advantage

December 6, 2022

In 2008, when I helped launch a study abroad company, I had never been out of the country. 

In 2012, when we took our high school leadership idea to Chick-fil-A, we had a lot of vision, but no experience. For many years, I had been insecure about my lack of experience, but the longer I work, the more I realize how my lack of experience was actually an advantage in the early days of my career. 

Don’t get me wrong —there are many advantages to having experience. Firsthand knowledge comes with an understanding of best practices. You anticipate potential obstacles, and you’re more familiar with the ebb and flow of different work seasons. Experience is not bad, but often our experience can make us think inside of a box and see things through a narrow lens. 

On the other hand, not having experience forces you to think about things differently. You naturally think more creatively when you don’t have a bias or an understanding of the way things have always been. The greatest ideas often come from the people with the most outside experience.

While I have believed this principle to be true, I have never seen it articulated as clearly as a post I recently read by former Chick-fil-A President and COO Jimmy Collins. He said it like this:

“I am glad I did not know.

I am glad no one knew.

When I went to work for Truett Cathy to help him build the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, I was the third staff employee. None of us knew.

None of us had built or operated or even worked in a restaurant chain. No one had any experience in organizing a franchise system.

Only one of us . . . Truett Cathy . . . had ever worked in any restaurant!

At the time we didn’t think about it, but . . . that was an advantage!

If we had started with experience from another restaurant chain, today Chick-fil-A probably would be like one of the other chicken chains or maybe one of the hamburger chains.

Even more likely, we would have failed like so many other restaurant chains now long gone and forgotten. Because we did not know, we were free to invent and create a restaurant chain that was different from anything else in the industry.”

Is your lack of experience holding you back from taking the next step toward something you’ve been dreaming about?

Instead of seeing your lack of experience as a disadvantage, shift your perspective to seeing it as a unique competitive advantage.


What new innovations and ideas could you bring to the table? Decide today that you won’t let inexperience keep you from pursuing something new. The world might need the new approach that comes from your unique perspective.


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