image by halfgeek, flickr artist

chicago blackhawks star, and member of the 2010 olympic hockey team for the USA, patrick kane said about the team’s chances of winning in an interview prior to the preliminary round match against canada, “maybe we’re too young to know any better.”

that—to me—is the unmistakable value of youth: we really do think we can do anything.

the problem with experience is that with the wisdom of age also comes the knowledge of failure. when you’re trying to dream big dreams and accomplish the unthinkable, there are many experienced people who will say, “we’ve been there and tried that, and it didn’t work,” but the youth will say, “this sounds awesome. when do we start?”

that’s not to completely discount the value of experience. you need both to be truly successful. it’s a balancing act that you must play to get the right blend of wisdom and will power in your organization. you need people who know how to get the job done. people who have been through high-pressure situations and have learned from their mistakes. at the same time, you need people who think they are invincible. people who are “too young to know any better,” and are willing to try anything—even the ‘impossible.’

young people bring new, radical ideas. while they don’t yet have the wisdom of age, they do have the wisdom of the ages. they understand new technologies and concepts. they bring new methods to the workplace. they aren’t constrained by the limitations of the past. so with the baby boomer generation retiring and an influx of new talent entering the workforce—and senior personnel still holding the decision making roles—it’s more important than ever that they understand this.

it needs to be the role of every senior member in an organization to not just listen to what the youth is saying, but to actively go out and ask them for their opinions.

(the young, inexperienced usa team went on to win that preliminary round game over canada 5-3. the team that no one thought would have a chance at winning ended up plowing through the rest of their schedule and reached the gold medal match. while they did lose in the rematch with our neighbors up north, they certainly made it difficult, coming back from a 2-0 deficit—including a last-minute goal in regulation—to force overtime.)