The Value of Personal Experience

Strategic Planning

The value of your ‘journey’ and why you should “go through it” to learn the best lessons. 

I recently shared an interesting discussion with my colleagues about the wonders of technology and the time, effort, and undue stress it saves us.  The particular example being discussed was my freshman year in Waterloo, before the invention of smartphones as we know them now, and much less—mobile Google Maps.  I reflected upon the many minutes (hours, rather) I spent lost after taking a wrong turn while on the way to a friend’s, a store, or even my own residence from a different direction than I was used to. I still describe my internal GPS using the same example: If I were blindfolded, and spun around three times in the same place—I would be lost.  Google is my personal side-kick.

Lifting the Technological Veil

So reflecting upon what hardly seemed an enviable or convenient time, surprisingly turned into a lament for a simpler time when instincts played a greater role, and our inner compasses had a greater bearing on decision-making.

It led me to consider the way in which technology, and subsequently society, has grown upon the expectation of efficient, instant, accurate results.  While the benefits are countless, this can lead us to unwittingly straddling the line between overly-cautious, and blindly ambitious.  On one end, we are so afraid of failure, we have gone to exhaustive lengths and taken extreme precautions to avoid making mistakes.  We consult Google, social media, or conclusions derived from software algorithms and finally—decide against the hassle. But in this, we lose all the intrinsic, valuable tools that result only from finding our own way, and taking wrong turns along the way.

Oftentimes the short answer prevents us from digging deeper or looking at things as a whole.

On the other end, we also use technology to circumvent ‘life’ in the pursuit of instant ‘experiences’.  We don’t have the time or patience to spend years developing the experience and learning the challenges, so we rely on summarized information to quickly reach the next step.  For example, anybody who has seen a Van Gogh painting in person can assert the experience is nowhere comparable to a Google image or photo on the internet (insert ‘ceci n’est pas une pipe’ witticism here). And while the technology, the tools, and the ‘How To’ books continue to complement our experiences in life and business, we must make René Magritte’s distinction and make sure it doesn’t become the experience and detract from the real thing.  We rely on these efficient, yet detached methods of information collection in which there is nothing visceral or lasting.  Oftentimes the short answer prevents us from digging deeper or looking at things as a whole.

The same examples apply to business.  While it is certainly important to leverage any tools available to us, we should never underestimate the value of going through the challenges first-hand, taking the risks others have avoided, and getting messy in the process.  After all, life is not a direct path, and we shouldn’t treat it as such.

Trusting Your Instincts

History is full of great discoveries and happy accidents by great people who invite new experiences and follow their own paths.  Instead, before you scrap your big idea because a web post ‘said so’, close your browser for a moment and try this instead:

  • Apply that ‘grain of salt’ thinking and find out what works and doesn’t for yourself or your business;
  • Don’t limit your experiences to avoid making mistakes;
  • Don’t cut corners or minimize the journey; and
  • Most importantly—GO FOR IT!

Helping Businesses Clear the Clutter

At Mentor Works we partner with businesses from across the country to help them get a new prospective and prioritize their business needs. We have helped hundreds of businesses step back to see what they should be prioritizing and then helping them achieve their goals with funding strategies. If you’d like to learn more about how Mentor Works can help your team tackle business challenges head on, attend one of our upcoming free webinars or a local workshop.

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