Sunday, June 24, 2007

Become an expert at learning from your experiences

“We learn not from our experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences.”

My mentor, William Jenkins, taught me that when I was 17.

I never forgot it.

AND THE BEST PART IS: over a decade later, his philosophy still holds true.

See, I make a living writing and speaking about my experiences of wearing a nametag every day.

A nametag!

And I don’t have a master’s degree. I don’t have a PhD. Nor I don’t have any scientific data to back up my knowledge.

But I DO have thousands of experiences.

Which means it’s all empirical. It’s all experiential.

And sometimes, that’s the best teacher of all.

However.

When it comes to experiential knowledge, there are two categories of people:

1. Those people who simply HAVE experiences.

2. The people who (not only) have experiences; but reflect upon them, figure out WHY they happened and then WRITE DOWN the lessons they learned.

Sadly, too many people find themselves in the first category.

Here’s a list of four actions you can take TODAY to become an expert at learning from your experiences:

1. Prepare yourself. Every day, every moment, every experience, you need to be open and prepared to learn. Embrace the irrelevant! Cherish the mundane! No matter how miniscule or seemingly unimportant, you must maintain an attitude of continuous improvement in all situations an encounters with others.

SAY TO YOURSELF: “This is going to be great! I can’t wait to see what I learn from this experience…”

2. Listen. For the clues, tips, ideas, take-aways and life lessons learned. Pluck them as they occur. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. Watch out for things to say YES to. Those are the biggies.

SAY TO YOURSELF: “Oh. So, THAT’S why that happened to me! Got it.”

3. Write it down. When you’ve finished an experience, sit down and force yourself to make a list of the stuff you just learned. This is a must! Because writing is the basis of all wealth. Because that which goes unrecorded goes unmemorable. And because if you don’t write it down, it never happened.

SAY TO YOURSELF: “Alright, what lessons could I learn from what JUST happened to me?”

4. Reflect & Revise. Go back through your notes. Think back about what (else) you learned since writing down the original lessons.

SAY TO YOURSELF: “What else (over time) happened as a result of that experience? And what can I learn from that?”

Ultimately, if you consistently practice these four keys to experiential learning, you’ll get to know yourself better AND exponentially increase your learning curve.

Because you learn not from your experiences, but from intelligent reflection upon those experiences.

LET ME ASK YA THIS...
Are you an expert at learning from your experiences?

LET ME SUGGEST THIS...
Pick something that happened to you last week. Post three things you learned from that experience here!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
www.hellomynameisscott.com

Are you the luckiest person you know?

Watch Scott's interview on 20/20!

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