There’s been considerable debate over the years about experience – and how powerful of a performance enabler it can be. If you listen to seasoned athletes who have played their sport for some time and asked what advantage they have over a newcomer or a younger, more athletic team, the response is invariably … experience. When people in the workplace are hired or promoted, one of the more critical elements for that hire or promotion is that the person has experience and as a result of that experience, they are often compensated much more than those with less experience.
So what exactly is experience? Two men can truthfully say that they have been truck drivers for 10 years. Yet one of them drove once a month and the other drove every week for 10 years. Would the experience of the latter be more relevant? Of course.
A recent study showed that the average human being has about 80 substantive experiences a year. These are 80 experiences that the average human being can truly learn from — where the result of that learning could be fairly substantial. Yet, the study revealed that average human being only processes an average of 3 of those 80 experiences a year. This means that the benefits of “experience” could be significantly enhanced if we took time to process more experiences. If we were to, for example, double our average to 6, starting at age 30, it is arguable that by age 40 we would have the experience (or wisdom) of a 50 year old… ten years earlier.
Without processing and learning from our experiences, we are missing out on great opportunities to learn from life, and thus missing out on living a much richer and fulfilling life. Processing an experience means to reflect on it, discuss it with someone objective, figure out the lessons, and make a proactive plan to integrate those lessons in your life. Experience, the traditional performance enabler, is a result of such actions.