Experience is a great teacher. In fact, everything we learn is based on some type of experience. There are basically two types of experience; objective and subjective. Think about it. The majority of everything you have learned is based on the experience of others. Now, before you disagree, let’s look at it.
The majority of what we learned in school is based on fact and it is not influenced by a person’s feelings and opinions. How can one argue with math and science? It’s all fact and has been proven. Yet, have you ever wondered, how algebra was discovered? Someone had to start it and it just blossomed as people built on the experience of others.
How about medicine? Years ago, it was a major operation to have your gall bladder removed. Now, that operation is less invasive with the improvement of laparoscopic surgery. The procedure has improved over the years based on what they learned and tried.
So, in essence, in these cases, invention and improvement did come about from the experience of others. Since these things are based on fact and can’t be argued, the knowledge gained from experience is minimized.
Experience plays a much larger role with topics based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. There are many examples of subjective topics such as how one feels, level of pain, parenting, supervising, motivating a team, a golf swing, etc. The list goes on and on. Let’s take parenting. Just search “parenting” on the Internet. You will find a lot of advice on the topic. However, that advice is truly the opinion of others based on their experiences. And they are all correct. Why? Because it worked for them.
When I became a parent, I took what I liked from what my parents did and incorporated it into my parent toolbox. Then I took the things I didn’t like as to what my parents did and changed it. Realize that many of these decisions weren’t consciously made. However, these decisions were made on my own personal childhood experience. And just think when your experiences are different than your spouse. Let the negotiations begin.
The same concept holds true when you move into supervision. Once again, your mind examines that experience folder regarding what you liked and disliked with the supervisors you worked for. Incorporate what you like, change what you don’t. So, you are making decisions based on your experience and creating your own experiences.
So, why is Experience so Important
Believe it or not, many of our choices are based on our experience and possibly on the experience of others. It is a great starting point. Listen to the experiences of others. Evaluate that experience. Take what you like and disregard what you don’t. Take that experience and learn from it.
“Experience is not the best teacher. Other people’s experience is the best teacher.” ~ Andy Andrews
“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” ~ Oscar Wilde
I learned a lot from the experiences of others and still created my own experiences as I improved in leadership. I have written a book based on my experiences on what I consider the “Stepping Stones of Leadership” with the purpose of helping others.