In the vast expanse of our professional landscapes, a question often surfaces, rippling through the echelons of our organizations: How do we balance the scales of experience and raw talent? Beyond the welcoming handshake, how do we open our hearts and minds to the individuals walking through our doors?
In elite military units like the Ranger Regiment, every new member is more than a number added to the roster; they are a breath of fresh air, infusing the established with invigorating perspectives and innovative ideas. They are not just accepted; they are embraced, and seen as the vanguards of change and growth.
Yet, an undercurrent exists, a subtle yet pervasive inclination to measure worth by the years clocked in. We’ve all heard the whispers of tenure used as a yardstick—”Billy has only been here 8 months,” or “Sarah has been with us for a decade.” It’s as if the passage of time should be synonymous with the accrual of value. But should it?
In the 75th Ranger Regiment, respect was given for those with years and combat stripes. However, respect was not a finite resource based on time served. It was a currency earned and spent on the merit of one’s actions and contributions. The Regiment operated as a meritocracy—where deeds and results carved out your standing, not merely the dates on your service record. It is a humbling reminder that tenure does not always correlate with talent. Repetition without reflection does not guarantee mastery, and often, the new arrival can eclipse the veteran, offering a better way.
This ethos brings forth a humility that I’ve carried into the civilian sphere—a constant reevaluation of our emphasis on longevity. It beckons us to ask: Do we need to keep tallying days, or can we start trusting abilities? Must we saddle the new with the weight of ‘newness,’ or can we offer them the same trust we extend to the familiar?
And therein lies the crux of the culture we ought to cultivate—a culture that doesn’t just give trust but fosters it every day. How does one navigate the nebulous threshold of trust? When does the newcomer shed their label in the eyes of their peers?
This should not just be a thought exercise but as a catalyst for change—a call to action to foster inclusivity and equity within our teams. Let’s step back and reassess how we welcome the fresh-faced talent among us.
Let us forge environments where experience is acknowledged and celebrated, and new talent is welcomed and valued. Places where trust isn’t earned in the fullness of time but given in the spirit of collaboration from the very first moment. Where the confluence of seasoned wisdom and innovative spirit propels us forward.
Together, let’s shape the fabric of our organizations with open arms and open minds, welcoming each individual as a vital thread in the tapestry of our collective success.
J.C. served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer for 20 years, primarily in special operations and special missions units with more than 11 combat tours. Since retiring from the military, JC has brought his innovative and unconventional thoughts on education, leadership and resiliency into the private sector, consulting with Fortune 500 companies, the NFL, NBA, NCAA and professional sports teams including the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Hornets.
He holds a Masters Degree from the Naval War College and was a Senior Fellow in the Service Chief’s Fellowship at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
He has earned 3 Bronze Stars, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Commendation Medal, and the Order of Saint Maurice. He is a Liberty Fellow, a part of The Aspen Institute and the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.