Gaining Experience to Succeed

AUGUST 5, 2015

Is it when we get old that we gain experience?
Is the act of doing the only way to forge it?
Do you need to be employed by someone to acquire skill and knowledge?

Experience. noun. the knowledge or skill acquired by experience over a period of time, especially that gained in a particular profession by someone at work.

Experience is obtained by doing. It may be doing stuff at work or doing stuff at home. Doing work for your boss or doing work for yourself. It is all experience. The more you practice an activity, the more experience you get.

By being constant and consistent; by learning from other people's stories; by getting feedback on your work and finding ways to implement it in the future. That is how we obtain knowledge and skill. That is how we gain experience.

You cannot create experience. You must undergo it. — Albert Camus

Picture a person who wants to get really good at public speaking. The only way she can get better at it is by doing that activity. By speaking—a lot—in front of people. By interiorizing techniques and reading what professional public speakers do will probably help her be more confident and feel the situation is under control. It may provide knowledge, but it won’t provide skill. The key part is the act of speaking in front of an audience: Practicing.

I believe in experience as the result of combining both hard work and consistent efforts over a period of time; becoming better at something by doing, and by constantly learning from yourself and from others. This doesn’t necessarily imply you won’t learn anything by reading other people’s experiences, but, surely, it won’t get the job done.

Experience can be accelerated. Different people may reach different grades of experience, depending on how good they are at something, and how much time they put on it. Experience can be accelerated by forcing ourselves to do more.

You don’t need experience. Experience can sometimes get you in the door, but what really matters is where you are now and where you’re going next. The past belongs on a resumé. — Chris Guillebeau

In an ever-changing world, the task of finding a job to get real-world experience can be challenging. As Chris Guillebeau questions on The Art of Non-Conformity, experience may not be that important after all—as nobody knows what they are doing.

The exciting part is, we have today the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skill in almost any field on our own. Take your laptop. Take an online course on iOS programming. Make an app. If you learn from an online or offline resource on your own, build something, and ship it, that is real-world experience.

This is, I believe, why many young entrepreneurs have succeeded early in life—and you can do too—working under their own terms. By practicing, reading, learning, executing, and shipping, they have imbued themselves into real experience.

This essay is part of the book I am writing on how to organize your life in order to create more and better. If you want to receive new parts of the book as I write them, please join here, and check other posts that will be on the book.

BookEntrepreneurshipLongformGetting Simple