Above: The Ultimate Rookie, Alexia – kindergarten, Bloom School, Louisville, Kentucky 1972.  Thanks Dad for the cute outfit. It’s amazing I didn’t suffocate in that turtleneck and vest in the August heat. 🥵

We all love a rookie.

The unlimited potential. The newness. Rookies have a willingness to just do it. Not overthink, but jump in. What freedom! What fun! They are unencumbered by “experience.”  Nothing to weigh them down. Nothing to lose.

Every year, in late August, students all over the country become rookies . They don’t have a choice. They hop on the bus with brand spankin’ new sneakers, fresh book bags and head off into the unknown with parent’s cheering them on. New year. New grade. Rookies again.

Can you remember those first days of school? Moving from a single homeroom to changing classes? Writing your new locker combination on your wrist so you wouldn’t forget? Moving hours away from home into a tiny dorm where you knew not a single soul? Those are pivotal “rookie” moments that launched us. We figured it out as we went. And survived. We actually did more than survive, we grew up. Have we lost that sense of adventure that comes with starting something new?

Those days may have been eons ago and you might argue, “Yes, I remember.  But I was younger. It’s different now. I’m busy.”

Not so fast. When our groove becomes a rut, we settle into complacency. When we have a rookie mindset, we stay open. We all have things we don’t want to learn, but need to. And things we want to learn, but can’t find the time. So we stay stuck.

But what if we adopt a rookie mindset?

The rookie mindset comes when we do something for the first time. We don’t know if we’ll be any good at it or whether or not we’ll even like it, but we try anyway. Whether it’s writing a blog, building an outdoor pizza oven, salsa dancing, skydiving, taking a pottery class, running a 5K or hiking a piece of the Appalachian Trail, we all need to jump out of our comfort zones.

In his book the Comfort Crisis, Michael Easter writes, “We are living progressively sheltered, sterile, temperature-controlled, overfed, under challenged, safety-netted lives.”  And he also notes that as we begin to push ourselves toward new challenges, “we are forced into presence and focus. Newness can even slow down our sense of time. This explains why time seemed slower when we were kids.”

Easter is right and science agrees. Doing new things sparks creativity and accesses parts of our brain that creates the magical drug dopamine. Dopamine gives us motivation to keep trying and elevates our overall well-being. Woo Hoo. Give me some of that!

Even if we aren’t great at it, a fresh sense of accomplishment washes over us when we learn new things. It reminds us that we are capable of more. A lot more.

Isn’t it time you try something new? Maybe review the bucket list you started? Or begin a new one? How about that business you’ve been noodling for too long?

Why should rookies have all the fun?

Cheering you on!