The simplest definition of experience is that it is the sum total of acquired knowledge. Man’s knowledge-base has two elements: basic knowledge and acquired knowledge. Basic knowledge is all that we learn from our parents, teachers, books and the ecosystem of upbringing from the first day of our birth until we embark on the journey to build our life. Beginning of this journey can happen at any time between primary school — like those unfortunate ones who drop out from school and start their career too early to shoulder or share the responsibilities of their families — and completion of university education. Acquired-knowledge gets accumulated on the foundation of basic knowledge that everyone possesses though in varying strengths.
Is experience as simple as acquired knowledge? Why do people of similar experience produce different quality-outputs for the same constants under the same variables? As we venture out to find answers for these questions, more questions like the following will pop up: why do some people, despite having years of experience, continue to languish in where they are? Why some people with little or less experience do better than others with more experience in the same field? How to make experience — acquired knowledge — add value to basic knowledge so that the knowledge-base becomes sharper and quicker in solving problems of life?
Possession of acquired knowledge is good, but that alone does not decide the utility value of experience. What decides how good and useful – utility value – the acquired knowledge is depends on the dynamics that a man can bring into play to kindle the acquired knowledge lying dormant into action. In other words, knowledge is important, but knowing from the knowledge is more important. Knowing from knowledge is learning from knowledge, and it is to be followed with internalizing that learning to the extent that one feels fortified and better equipped — a feeling of more-skilled — to deal with the world. The dynamics continues with adding of ‘the learnt element’ to the active skill sets that you deploy to solve life’s problems. People with same years of experience but are different with little/lower and higher levels of this dynamics produce different levels of quality-outputs when given the same task under the same conditions.
We are hardwired with everything that are noble and evil, but the accompanying software decide which of these elements works. Basic-goodness, willingness to accept and appreciate good and meritorious things, etc. are some of the manifestations of nobility while jealousy, unwillingness to appreciate and accept good things, etc. are from the list of evil-base. Basic knowledge is the hardware, and acquired knowledge is the software. If lessons we learn and novel ideas we come across can be channelized to spur up the noble elements of our hardware, we will become more and more receptive to good and meritorious things. Life never ceases to teach us lessons, and none can bunk the classes; the difference is that some learn from the lessons and progress to higher class where more advanced lessons are taught while others refuse to learn and continue to remain in the same class. If you are unappreciative of and hesitant to accept new ideas and better ways of doing things, probably because they had come from your friends or peers, you will continue to languish in “the same class,” no matter how many years you add to your experience.
Having experience is not conditional to success as the process of acquiring knowledge happens on the way toward success and beyond. Haven’t you noticed that fresh-recruits with little experience doing better than the experienced-hands though not all fresh-recruits do so. Our basic knowledge mostly teaches us to solve problems in a conventional framework, meaning that almost all problems can be solved by institutionalized metrics. There are, however, many practices and the related-problems in life that cannot be institutionalized, hence, get missed out but are capable of derailing the solution being chalked within an institutional framework. Fresh-recruits, who have overarching view — extra usage of skill sets — to see such institutionally-invisible factors and can factor them in, succeed better than others, including an experienced but ‘not-learnt-from’ person. For example, if you are a fresh-recruit to the sourcing division at a fish processing-unit and that you do not over-arch to see the practice of adding powdery-sands to fishes as a way to increase their weight by suppliers, it is highly likely that you will pay a big price by the time you catch the unscrupulous elements — from my own experience.
Basic knowledge is your past and the present combined which, along with acquired knowledge, takes you to the future. Basic knowledge is a done deal so is limited to that extent, but only sky is the limit for acquisition of knowledge. How do we make ourselves receptive to and embrace acquired knowledge thereby fully unlocking its latent value? The process of unlocking the potential of acquired knowledge begins with taking the feeling of inferiority out from us. How do we do it? Feeling of inferiority is our undesirable ability to adopt another person’s strength as our weakness. Accumulated vestiges of disappointments and setbacks arising from one’s dealings with others as well as oneself feed this undesirable ability.
It is almost impossible to not feel disappointed while dealing with others, but one can try not to get consumed by it by accepting and internalizing the fact that helping or doing something for others is a thankless job. And self-inflicted disappointment can be made to go by sensitizing oneself that any shortfall in accomplishment is a ‘fait accompli’ that can never be reversed but can be acted upon to learn from and improvise. A man capable of quickly overcoming disappointments and setbacks does no more consider another person’s strength as his weakness, rather he will be in spate to receive and internalize new ideas and better-ways of doing things, giving added prowess to his foundational strength called basic knowledge. This, along with confidence which itself is an indication of clarity of thoughts, gives him faculty to wade through complex problems faster and sharper. Let me conclude that experience is the ability to find simplicity in complex problems within the shortest span of time. Those who are experienced sans this ability are experienced without the experience.