“Experience is the best teacher” is a commonly held belief, but even the best teacher cannot instill knowledge without a willing and active learner. So what does the path from experience to application and changed behavior look like?
Let’s start with the assumption that each of us has a desire to learn and grow. Because each of us is in the midst of one experience or another all day every day, we constantly have opportunities to learn. However, the learning does not usually happen in the moment or experience itself. The learning actually most often occurs when we pause to reflect, asking questions like: What contributed to a success I experienced? What thought processes and behaviors worked, and why would I want to repeat them? What mistakes did I make today that I want to avoid repeating?
In the words of philosopher and education expert John Dewey, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Pausing to collect our thoughts, review our actions, and question our motives (rather than racing through life on autopilot) allows us to learn, apply lessons learned, and be more intentional in our behaviors.
Sounds simple enough: Be mindful and intentional and live a wonderful life, effectively applying the lessons life offers to us each day. But we know, based on our propensity to fail over and over again, that it’s not that easy. While we are capable of change, we know that it is hard work. John Dewey also described the process as “troublesome,” stating: “The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alteration of old beliefs.”
At Milestone Leadership, we believe the Leader Worth Following will persevere, knowing the effort pays off.