Experience. It’s one of the most important words a small business owner will ever hear. Without it, it’s harder to market your business. Given a choice between two service providers, most people would prefer to hire the person with the most experience.
If they won’t hire me because I don’t have experience, how the hell am I supposed to get experience when I can’t get the jobs?
Experience is a strange thing; it’s difficult to accumulate but amazingly beneficial. Experience can be a life saver, particularly to those individuals that are just starting out in business. To help us increase our knowledge, it’s important to understand the various ways in which we can gain experience.
When we listen to or read a story, it is told to us from one of three different points of view: first, second or third person. First person is when the storyteller speaks about their story: “As I walked up to the dock, I saw the old man fall down in the street.” Second person occurs when the storyteller is speaking to us: “When you are walking toward the dock you will see an old man trip and fall to the ground.” Third person is when you are told the story from an uninvolved person’s point of view: “It was a cold and rainy morning at the dock, as an old man slipped in the wet street, falling hard against the unforgiving concrete.”
These points of view can be a good way to think about how we gain experience: in the first, second or third person. The most common way that we gain experience is by having experiences ourselves. This is the most common way that people gain knowledge about life (personal as well as professional). Unfortunately, it is also the method that takes the longest and has the most potential downside. Learning some of these lessons may carry a cost that we will never recover from.
Learning in the second person can be thought of as paying to take a class or learn a skill. Someone is teaching us directly and we are expected to be an active participant in the learning experience. While this learning method can be quite successful, it is limited by the availability and/or expense of the teaching sessions.
Lastly, consider third person learning. This can encompass everything from reading a book, article or blog post, to listening to a podcast or tutorial. This can certainly be the most economical and most accessible method of education available to us in the digital age. Unfortunately, to get the maximum advantage from third person learning, we must be willing to personally invest our time and energy in the project. Our effort directly determines our benefit.
Wise people can certainly argue the benefits of one method over the others, and many spend their time doing exactly that (especially if they make their income from teaching in the second person style.) My experience has taught me that there are positives and negatives inherent in each style. A good business person will benefit each time that a learning experience occurs, no matter what point of view it uses to present itself.
It’s wise to be open to learning, no matter where the education comes from or where it leads. But always remember: any experience you can gain without risking a costly downside is always a win in the long run.
Will Rogers famously said that “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”
Watch out for the fence…
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