‘Reclaim Your Experience’ by noula diamantopoulos
Do you know how experienced you are? Or have you forgotten the riches of all your experiences just because they don’t come with a certificate or degree?
Of course we should get educated and celebrate our confirmations of achievement (insert a loud woo-hoo here). Yet our talents and our gifts go further than the paper record, which is like a train ticket we validate when we arrive that says nothing about who we met and who we became along the way.
Is it possible to harness our experience into invaluable insights that can be applied in the workplace, home and in our personal relationships? We all have a ton of experience, but what are we doing with it?
We dilute our experience when we say “That happened to me once” or “I’ve experienced that,” couching it in terms of an event, rather than a personal experience which has charged a light bulb of learning and realisation.
The word experience comes from the Latin experientia, meaning knowledge gained from repeated trials, and experiri, which means to try. Thus, experience is as Gregory Alan Elliott stated, is “the past tense of experiment.”
Experimenting is giving something a go, and opening yourself to making mistakes, like Thomas Edison’s numerous trials in creating the electric light globe. And don’t underestimate the results you discover – I have gotten a lot of results in my life. I know several thousand things that won’t work!
A positive way we can view failure is as experience. That’s good. But we can take it further; we can change our perspective and reclaim our experience.
Give yourself (another) a New Years Task: Rewrite your CV
To claim your experience you must first name it. And you can’t name something you can’t see. Begin by either writing out on paper or dictating to a friend; your experiences, experiments and “almosts.” Name them. Don’t be afraid to reveal your disappointments and shortcomings.
Write out all the things that you didn’t get right in 2011, and if you have courage and a good memory, go back even further in time. Deadlines that you failed to meet, books you didn’t finish reading (or writing), appointments you missed, unfinished workshops you enrolled in, ways you have mismanaged teams in the workplace, birthdays you have forgotten, budgets you have exceeded…
These are all examples of how you have wanted to achieve something but haven’t.
What lead to those failures? What weaknesses did you show? How can you work to change them? What stopped you finishing? Were those the right priorities?
You may not like what your experience shows up for you, and that’s okay. Randy Pausch said it beautifully: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.”
Now that you have got the “yuk” stuff out of the way, it is time to think differently and write out or call out all the good experiences.
We often overlook the challenges we overcame on a project that completed successfully and we focus on the simple fact that we did good. Ah… but there were elements where you have had to shift course or create a novel approach – record these too.
It’s time to write another CV, highlighting the positives of what you learnt from your experiences last year, and what you’ve subsequently learnt about yourself. Writing down what you may have learnt of yourself may take a little longer, as it can be disconcerting to try to honestly analyse ourselves as people.
For example, do you value and respect the people you work with? What is most important, your relationships at work or your work output? Do you have confidence in your abilities? Do you will yourself to succeed?
Don’t judge your thoughts as you write these responses. Again it might be easier to buddy up and allow your friend to guide you to the positives.
By claiming your past experiences you can discover important truths about yourself, gaining so much more than any ‘piece of paper’ certificate.
As a man in a toga once said… Know Thyself!
Now you can see the gifts, strengths and inner values that you bring to any working relationship and environment – continue to grow these strengths and speak of them with conviction, because you bothered to get to know yourself.
Appearing in this Article
Thomas Edison – Shining some light on how to hang in there.
Gregory Alan Elliott – I really honestly dont know who this guy is but he is acknowledged as writing those words – Cool huh!
Randy Pausch – This quote was taken from Randy’s book called The Last Lecture, written for his children as life lessons, but this is just as applicable to business. He has also written: Encourage Creativity, Learn from Captain Kirk, Celebrate Brick Walls, Dream Big, Be the first penguin, Rediscover the lost art of thank-you notes and Have Fun.
Random man in a toga – Ah… that would be Socrates!
Jarod Kintz – He didn’t actually appear in this article but was keen too! “I wish my stove came with a Save As button like Word has. That way I could experiment with my cooking and not fear ruining my dinner.” (Quoted from: Who Moved My Choose? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change by Deciding to Let Indecision into Your Life)