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March 12, 2009

Part 2 of 3: Experience

Filed under: Uncategorized — aspensmonster @ 3:22 am

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Your employers demand it. Your parents have it. Your children need it. We all want it. But what is it? That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s sincere. Just what is it? For something that is so apparently valuable and overriding, most don’t seem to truly consider what it is. From Merriam-Webster:

a: direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge
the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation

As a 19 year old, I hear about experience all the time. I hear about how much of it others older than I have. I hear about how much of it I and those after me lack. Most importantly I see it used as a tool of discussion. Or rather, a tool to end discussion. Which truly is a shame. You see, I hear people use the word experience. I don’t hear them use experience. It is a shame because those observations and participations are the basis for the word and can be extremely powerful and convincing.

And it’s such a simple distinction! It is not disrespectful to ask to explain what is being called experience. It’s a clarification. There is no justifiable reason to withhold such an explanation. It goes against the very nature of why experience was mentioned in the discussion in the first place, to inform. And yet it is withheld all the time. It doesn’t take a wise man to understand why.

I’ll keep it short. Your use of the word experience doesn’t mean shit. It doesn’t mean anything more to me than it does to those younger than me when I use it. When I hear a 21 year old tell me I should listen because they have “more experience” it is no different than being told “I’m older, ergo I’m right.” If I ever tried that on my subordinates, they would rightfully lose confidence in me as a leader. No one believes that bullshit.

It’s a cop-out. I don’t want to hear you tell me you have experience. I want to hear what the experience is and more importantly how you came to interpret it as supporting whatever position you are positing. Because that is what has you convinced of whatever your opinion is. When you refuse to answer, you might as well not have the experience at all.

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