How Valuable Is Experience?

Relying on experience

According to most experience is the holy grail of knowledge. What you experience takes precedent over everything and anything. Without experience you cannot expect to succeed. Without experience you will fail. Without experience nothing you do will amount to much.

It’s all bullshit.

I recently read a book called The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino and there were a couple passages that stood out to me and granted wisdom on the “holiness” of experience.

But first my own thoughts. I think experience can be very important and is certainly a valuable source of knowledge. However experience is inherently limited. First off your experiences only happened to one person…you. Compared to the grand scheme of things that doesn’t matter much. For example say you started a company and it was successful great. You now go out and talk about it. Also great. However you are just one person who did things one way. Compare that to the vast differences in human experience. Can one person become untouchable because of experience? Don’t get me wrong experience is good but it is seen as above other forms of knowledge.

I think the reason experience is heralded as the end all be all is because by its nature it excludes young innovators and up and comers. Stop them from competing before they even get started. Experience is used by old men who have finished growing but want to keep the young in their place. Experience is used as a crutch.

Sorry but give me ten books written by the richest men in the world or a year of my own experience and I’ll take the former. Don’t get wrong I would still take action but people can go in circles their entire lives without seeing any progress. Why would I want to take the same path?

Alright so now the book.

“The value of experience is overrated, usually by old men who nod wisely and speak stupidly”

Like I said before a lot of the whole “you have to have experience” is parroted by old people because all that they have is their experience. They didn’t read books, go to seminars, they didn’t innovate. They simply ducked down and took shot after shot until they sort of figured out what to do.

Don’t get me wrong that works but it’s doing things the hard way. You shouldn’t just work hard you should work smart. A guy can spend his entire life working hard yet end up with nothing. There are plenty of artists, accountants, blue collar workers, teachers, and plenty of others who bust their ass.

But they’ll never end up anywhere. It’s sad, it’s unfair, but more importantly it’s true. Don’t end up like these people. Do things the smart way while busting you ass at it at the same time. There is not a choice between working hard and working smart.

Do both or fail.

“In truth experience teaches thoroughly yet her course of instruction devours men’s years so the value of her lessons diminishes with the time necessary to acquire her special wisdom. The end finds it wasted on dead men.”

Like I said before. You want to see a success who relied on experience and experience alone you’ll be looking at a sixty or seventy year old man. Remember your time is your most valuable asset. I have no use for being rich and successful when I have five years and a wheelchair left to enjoy it. Why waste your most precious asset?

So you can say “Oh I have experience”. So that you’ll be accepted by others who rely on experience alone?

Be smart, make the most of your time. Use both experience and other methods.

“Furthermore experience is comparable to fashion; an action that proved successful today will be unworkable and impractical tomorrow”

Innovate don’t stagnate. The fact of the matter is a good portion of advice that was good for our grandparent’s generation will get you killed in today’s culture.

Work hard and your boss will reward you.

Being nice will get you a girlfriend.

Go to college.

I could keep going but you get the picture. The internet has revolutionized many things. For example making money off a blog is something that my parents, let alone my grandparents, have no concept of. To them making money is putting in forty years at a company working nine to five plus unpaid overtime for an asshole until they graciously let you retire to die at age sixty-five.

“Only principles endure”

Principles are what matter. Principles are what will lead you to success. Principles apply across time and culture. When you want to get the most “bang for your buck” then focus on the principles.

And don’t forget to check out The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

If you have any questions you would like to see answered in a future post send them to me at charlessledge001 (at) gmail (dot) com. If you found value in this post then I would encourage you to share this site with someone who may need it as well as check out my books here. I appreciate it. You can follow me on Twitter here.

-Charles Sledge

Charles Sledge