There is tremendous value in experience. People with a great deal of experience are typically paid more and command greater respect and authority. I expect that’s why Jimi Hendrix kept asking about it.
But the true value of experience does not come from the experience itself. After all, Elizabeth Taylor had a great deal of marriage experience thanks to her 8 trips down the aisle. And Nick Cannon has a great deal of parenting experience thanks to the 11 kids he’s sired with 6 different women. But few of us would turn to either of them for quality advice on marriage or parenting.
The true value comes not from the experience itself, but from the time we spend reflecting on the experience. It comes from the evaluation of what did and didn’t work. It comes from considering the constants, the variables, and through reflection, the results. (Although I have also found True Value in those cute neighborhood hardware stores.)
It’s your reflection that creates learning and understanding. That’s when the value is gained. You don’t need to have a good experience to learn and grow. In fact, you will often learn more from a bad experience. Because it is the evaluation process that alchemizes both good and bad experiences into valuable experiences. Which means the only experience your won’t profit from is the one you don’t examine.
My friend Anne Norman once called me a master of self-reflection. I was surprised to hear her evaluation. Although, once I reflected on her comment I recognized that I do indeed make self-reflection a priority. It is the engine that drives my self-improvement journey. It is my greatest entrepreneurial asset. It inspires my writing. And it helps me recognize when I have a bat in the cave.
Experience is not inherently valuable. Your evaluation of the experience creates the long-lasting value. Take time to reflect on your experiences to understand why you got the results you did. Repeat the actions and behaviors that contributed to good outcomes. Eliminate those that contributed to bad outcomes. That’s how you convert experience into wisdom. And applied wisdom creates the greatest value of all.
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