Gaining Practical Experience: Unlocking Life-Changing Benefits

Bill Abbate

Little is more vital than experience. Without it, life would be nearly impossible to navigate.

If you wish you had more experience and some of the many benefits that come with it, read on to learn more about this life-changing subject!

Experience and its two types

Experience is a large part of what makes each of us unique. It is one of the few things you can always use more of, provided it is the right kind.

The great thing about experience is that if you lack it, you can get more, but it’s up to you to do the necessary work to gain it.

Let’s look at the two types of experience and their definitions.

The first type of experience is that of perception. This is the experience of having faced or gone through something. A few synonyms include undergo, encounter, and endure.

The dictionary defines this experience as:

experience (verb) — encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence). Oxford Languages

The second type of experience is that of doing something tangible. This is the experience of gaining knowledge or skills that are enhanced and increase over time. A few synonyms for this type of experience include knowledge, contact, and exposure.

The dictionary defines this experience as:

experience (noun) — practical contact with and observation of facts or events. Oxford Languages

As you can see, the two meanings /expressions of experience are quite different.

This article discusses the noun, not the verb. It is about the doing, not the conceptualizing. Let’s call it practical experience.

“Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” Randy Pausch (1960–2008)

What can practical experience do for you?

Without experience, where would any of us be? Likely stuck with no forward progress. It is through experience that we learn, develop and grow. How else could we improve our skills and abilities?

“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” Brian Tracy (1944-present)

When you think about it, experience is one of the most meaningful words in the English language.

Everyone knows good experience gives you a leg up in life. It can put you at the top of your field and in the driver’s seat when landing a job or earning more.

Experience is the most important teacher in life. Most good things in life come through experience, including knowledge itself.

“The only source of knowledge is experience.” Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

You gain practical experience through action. That is if you are willing to take action. The action could be as simple as thinking or as complicated as walking a tightrope across Niagra Falls. At times you must take a risk to get the experience you want.

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” Paulo Coelho (1947-present)

You can gain experience by doing things you may not wish to do. For example, most students graduate from university with little or no experience. They have plenty of education, but receiving an education is not the same as gaining experience. They now need practical experience.

To get this experience, they often make compromises in the near term. Since they lack experience, they may take a lower position to gain what they need to work their way up the ladder.

“Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is more intellectual play.” Immanuel Kant (1724–1894)

One of the greatest things about experience is how it helps you avoid mistakes and future problems.

“Experience is a lesson of the past to lessen the burden of the future.” Michael Sage

Yes, experience is the best teacher, and it can be unkind, but it is usually fair. Every experience creates value in our lives.

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” C.S. Lewis (1898–1963)

But to gain experience, you must be teachable. Otherwise, you will not find forward movement and risk repeating the same mistakes. In the end, life’s know-it-alls will be left behind.

“Experience teaches only the teachable.” Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)

Gaining practical experience

The wonderful thing about experience is that we can always get more by doing and practicing what we desire. If you want to be in high demand as an engineer, find a way to gain more experience. If you want to be in high demand as a carpenter, find a way to gain more experience. If you want to be in high demand as a writer, find a way to gain more experience.

How do you find a way to gain more experience? Work for free in exchange for the experience if you must. You can intern, volunteer, or start your own company. Get creative. Where there is a will, there is a way. It’s up to you to find that way. You already know how you can get it, don’t you?

Once you determine the best way to gain experience, it only requires the willingness to do the work needed to earn it. Like anything you get that is good in life, it requires work, but the reward can be significant.

“Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.” Terry Pratchett (1948–2015)

Just think of some great benefits you could receive from gaining more experience in your chosen field. You can become an expert if you want.


I chose to become an expert in my field many years ago. How? By reading and studying all the technical manuals and association publications I could get my hands on. I also joined and became active in associations and on many committees. While I started locally, I served in national associations before long.

Gaining experience through volunteering can make it easier to rise in your organization. Most associations, large or small, are always looking for volunteers. They need people that will put in a little effort to help them achieve their mission. The work you do can help you become seen as an expert in a short amount of time.

Reading and studying everything I could about the industry I worked in and being active in various industry associations made a big difference in my career. All it took was using available information that most people would not take the time to study while engaging in industry associations.

The benefits of practical experience

There are many benefits to gaining practical experience. Let’s look at a few of those that are more meaningful.

With the right experience, you can:

  • Enhance your value and become highly employable
  • Develop a great deal of confidence and self-esteem
  • Greatly enhance your success and achievement in life
  • Enjoy an enriched life
  • Create your own business and become your own boss
  • Build a lasting legacy
  • Spend more time doing what you enjoy

Do any of these benefits sound enticing? I’m sure you can come up with many more. Give it some thought, and you will find untold treasure in the benefits of gaining experience.

“The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.” William Osler (1849–1919)

Final thoughts

Take some time and think about how more of the right experience can help you. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What kind of experience would be most helpful to me?
  • What particular skill or ability do I want to build?
  • How and where can I get the experience?
  • Do I want to become an expert in my field?
  • What experience am I gaining in the approximately 2,000+ hours I spend working each year?

The old idiom “where there’s a will, there’s a way” is as true today as it has always been. Do you have the will to make it happen?

“View life as a continuous learning experience.” Denis Waitley (1933-present)

You can never have too much of the right kind of experience. Why not see your life as one long learning opportunity, and enjoy the experience of gaining more practical experience so long as you live? You will live a longer, happier, more productive life and rarely be bored!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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