Experience is an interesting thing. It is, sometimes, very helpful. But, too often it limits us.
Experience can be helpful. As we do our work, our past experience in similar situations shapes how we address current situations. We know how to respond to customers that ask certain questions, or when certain things happen, we know certain responses/actions enable us to successfully deal with them.
Experience enables us to make sense of the things we encounter and to be able to respond in a way that produces the results and outcomes we want.
Without learning from our experiences, it would be virtually impossible to grow and make progress. In virtually everything we do, we rely on our past experience in shaping what we do today.
Ideally, we take those experiences, refine them to constantly improve.
But experience is often limiting, it prevents us from recognizing there may be better ways of doing something. That there are better ways of accomplishing a task or achieving a goal.
Experience, often, blinds us. We robotically execute, failing to recognize that situations have changed–even subtly We see those things that we have always done, based on our experience, not working as well as they have in the past.
Experience can often make us lazy or complacent. We get so used to doing the same things every day, that we stop paying attention.
Sometimes, when we recognize our past experience is no longer working, we struggle to change, we become prisoners of our experience. We look in the places that we’ve always looked for answers, we rely on the same people, organizations, and groups, yet they are prisoners of their experiences. We struggle to change and innovate.
Often, we suffer from group-think. The phenomena of relying on people that are similar to us, who’ve had similar experiences. We are attracted to people who have had similar experiences, who think like we do, who look like we do. But because we are so similar, we struggle to innovate and be different, to change, to innovate.
Sometimes, we have to look completely outside our experience. We have to look in different places for answers, we have to engage different people, with more diverse experience, to help us figure things out.
We can look at people who have had experiences in completely different industries, who have very different backgrounds, who have experience–but experience that is different than ours.
They help us see things we may not see because of the blinders of our own experience, as we help them see things differently. Together, we think of new things, we innovate, we consider things we might never have considered before.
When we face very difficult situations, when we face things that we have never encountered before, when what we do is not longer working, when we are looking to change (or when we are blind to the need to change), our experience limits us. We need to engage people who have different experiences, different points of view, different attitudes, different backgrounds. Together, we can respond to what we face and learn how to move forward most effectively.