I think it’s time we stop lying to ourselves.
If experience were the best teacher, we would get smarter as we get older. – John Maxwell
We think that by doing we’ll get better.
I have two personal examples contradicting this “learn by doing” mentality.
Example # 1 – I Would Be Playing In Major League Baseball
I played baseball, almost daily, 9 straight years about 3 hours a day. That’s over 9,000 hours of practice and/or games. According to some researches, that’s enough hours to become an expert or great at something. I wasn’t.
The truth is I was good but not good enough. I had talent, potential, and being a lefty, the possibility of a great future. However, I didn’t make the cut. Why?
Because learning to master something and conquering one’s potential requires intentionality, individualization, and reflection.
My best swing, batting average, and overall performance came 4 years after I stopped playing baseball. Thanks to me taking the time to identify, analyze, and apply the drills, mechanics, and exercises that worked best for me.
Example #2 – I Should Be a Great Leader by Now
I have 10 years of work experience, and about 7 of those I have had people reporting to me. Yet, I have only been leading for 2.
True, for 7 years I had direct reports, delegated projects, made strategic decisions, implemented solutions, and performed many “leadership” tasks; but I didn’t really lead. I was just going through the motions.
I only learned my style of leading after being “demoted” to an individual contributor role. The fewer responsibilities allowed me to reflect on past experiences, discover my strengths, accept my weaknesses, develop new skills, and test new concepts.
In both examples, I could only learn when I took the time to step away from the situation, analyze my actions and situations, identify gaps, and try new things.
How do you learn? What’s your best life lesson?