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Two Kinds of Experience

Bill Abbate

The more experience you gain, the more valuable you become. The more valuable you become, the more you can earn and the greater your potential for advancement. What kind of experience does it take to accomplish this?

The kind of experience you need

There are two kinds of experience. One happens to us, and the other happens in us.

This article is not about experiences that happen to you, such as riding a roller coaster or the experience of exhilaration from jumping out of an airplane.

What we will discuss is the other kind of experience. The kind in which you gain something. This experience is about practical, observational facts and understanding that helps you learn and grow. This growth or personal development makes you more valuable to those you work for and care about.

By the way, you can have the experience of jumping out of an airplane or gain the experience needed to jump from airplanes. The experience of jumping does not make you experienced, which comes through learning more about jumping from airplanes.

While we all have a great variety of experiences in life, the experience that becomes part of who we are is one of our most valuable assets.

To reiterate, the first kind of experience (verb) happens TO you, and the second kind of experience (noun) happens IN you.

Developing experience

How often do you think about investing in yourself to gain more experience through personal development? Sadly, few do. Take salespeople, for example. You will often hear that 90% never read a single book on sales, and few go through formal sales training. If this is true, those are some sad statistics!

Sales is not the only profession with this lack of personal development. Most professions other than those required to keep learning to maintain their certification are in the same boat. It is okay if you are happy where you are and satisfied with what you get. But it is a dangerous road since you gain little of the experience needed to give you more from life.

Without learning, practicing, and growing, how can someone gain experience that makes them more valuable in their job and relationships?

“The most valuable lessons in life cannot be taught, they must be experienced.” Liam Payne (1993-present)

Where can you get experience?

There are many types of experience. You can gain experience from education, teaching, work, traveling, life, and many other ways. Each requires learning that affects who you are and who you are becoming.

You can also gain experience from within from emotional, social, romantic, intellectual, religious, and other such experiences. Again, each of these affects who you are and who you are becoming.

As you can see, experience is developed within you and impacts what you can do.

“Nothing comes from without. All things come from within.” Neville Goddard (1905–1972)

How can you gain experience?

Most of us think of experience as being connected to our job since it is needed to earn a living. The more experience you have, the more valuable you become from an economic standpoint. When you have more experience than another person in a company, there is a strong likelihood you earn more and enjoy better perks.

How do you gain this type of valuable experience? Since such experience comes from doing, you obviously must do something. Putting in time and effort to gain experience is necessary. It is the kind of experience that comes from the proverbial “blood, sweat, and tears” you put into getting it.

One thing to note about gaining such experience is it requires time, often measured in years. The very nature of experience that makes you more valuable is it is often hard-fought and does not happen overnight. You must “pay the dues” of time and effort to get it.

You will expend much energy in doing the work, making the mistakes needed to learn to do it correctly and efficiently. Some of the most valuable experience you gain is steadily working day in and day out.

We often rise to our level of incompetency before conquering it. Once mastered, you can move to the next level of incompetency. Rinse and repeat. As with many things, the more experience you gain, the more you move from incompetence to competence.

A personal example of this was when I started in business many years ago; I had zero experience in the industry, which is often the case for many of us starting to work. I kept climbing the ladder through dedication and hard work, ultimately to the top spot.

On the way up, I often transitioned from incompetence to competence. It took making more effort to learn than most of my peers. I carefully studied technical journals and the manufacturing of our products. I participated in many associations, most of which were industry-specific. I worked in plants, labs, the field, and offices for years.

I had my share of failures but never gave up. Early on, I realized recovering from mistakes and failures provides invaluable experience. I took every lesson seriously.

“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)

Over time, I became known as one of the industry’s leading technical, marketing, and production experts. I have no question it happened because of the tremendous time and effort I invested in my personal development.

Gaining the type of experience that makes you valuable in your career requires doing more than is asked of you. Ensure you constantly learn, do the work, and overcome failures and mistakes. This process creates every business expert. Through hard work, dedication, and continual learning, anyone can gain invaluable experience.

“Experience is not what happens to you; it’s whatyou dowith what happens to you.” Aldous Huxley (1894–1963)

The benefits of experience

Understanding what you gain from experience can motivate you to commit more strongly to personal development. You can succeed beyond your wildest dreams by internalizing some of its benefits, which include:

  • Building credibility
  • Earning the trust and respect of others
  • Developing skills and abilities others lack
  • Enhancing your value to the organization
  • Positioning yourself for that next promotion
  • Increasing income and job perks
  • Expanding your network
  • Becoming more employable
  • Creating more job opportunities
  • Greater job security

Those are only a few benefits. What others come to mind that can inspire you?

As you can see, experience is not free. It comes at a cost. Gaining experience can require painstaking effort, overcoming and learning from trials, tribulations, failure, and a serious time commitment, sometimes at the expense of other things.

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

Like everything in life, it is ultimately your decision to go for it or not. Do you have what it takes to commit, or would you rather pass?

Final thoughts

Experience is one of the most valuable things you can acquire. Whether in your career, relationships or anywhere else, experience is invaluable to creating a better life for you and your family!

In the end, the effort of gaining experience can be an extremely worthwhile investment in your life. I leave you some words of wisdom from a well-known, highly successful 20th-century businessman:

“In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience.Take the experience first; the cash will come later.”Harold Geneen (1910–1997)


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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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