The famed sculptor, Auguste Rodin said “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Your accumulated experiences offer a deep well of valuable information. The greater the depth and diversity of your experiences, the greater the benefit available from those experiences. Different people, places and events all represent unique learning and growth opportunities.
It is important to note that experience alone, however, will neither increase expertise nor improve performance. There are many people who have been doing the same thing for decades and are no better today than they were years ago. So what makes the difference? How do you cash in the value from your wealth of experience?
Peak performers are masters at mining the greatest wealth from their experiences. They do this simply by asking three questions after every important experience:
1. What did I do well? It is important to know your strengths so you can use them strategically and capitalize on them.
2. What can I improve? If you want to be better tomorrow than you are today, something needs to change. Answering this question identifies precisely what needs to change.
3. How do I improve? Improvements come only when you take informed actions on things needing to change. Answering this question illuminates those necessary actions.
This is not a complicated formula, and if you undertake this exercise honestly and objectively after important events, you will discover a clear path to improved performance.
One additional tip for gaining value from experience—borrow from the experiences of others. Top performers devote great attention to learning from the experiences of their peers, competitors and mentors. They build large networks and seek opportunities to talk and—more importantly—listen when others share their experiences. Every experience, whether it be yours or someone else’s, is a wonderful opportunity to become enriched. Perhaps it was Albert Einstein who put it best: “The only source of knowledge is experience.”