In 1980 I had completed my military service and landed my first job in Johannesburg repairing typewriters. I was 22.
After four months of training I was ready to enter the field as a customer service engineer for IBM. Suited up and carrying an attaché case containing my tools I arrived at my first customer. Through a combination of nervousness and inexperience I struggled to find the bug and fix it. I broke a sweat, loosened my tie, the clock was ticking and the customer wanted to use her machine. I was representing IBM and I didn’t want to look incompetent but felt my pride and credibility sinking down into my socks. My pager kept announcing that more customers were being added to the queue of those already waiting.
I took out a vital part of the machine and apologising to the customer for the delay said I would need to go back to headquarters, just a few blocks away, to get a new part. OK. At the office an experienced colleague had come across the same problem and explained how to solve it. Back at the customer I replaced the same part I had taken out, found the bug and easily fixed it.
Not two days later, my boss received a glowing letter from the customer about the incident. She complimented on the efficient and friendly service that had been rendered. To get a letter from a customer was a rare thing it boosted my value as an employee and even more so because it was on my very first day out.
After all the excellent training I had received I felt I had failed as I was not able to identify the problem and spend ten minutes to solve it. The letter surprised me. Beginner’s luck? I think so. I have no other means of explaining it.
Do you think there is such a thing as beginner’s luck? Tell me, what are your thoughts on why beginners can sometimes excel beyond those with even years of experience? Leave a comment.