What is Experience?

One of the challenges that I have faced in both my professional and entrepreneurial career is that I am young and therefore others perceive that I lack the experience that others who are older than myself have.

experience

I recently read “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” by Richie Norton (full review to come soon) and there was a great idea from that book regarding this topic.

“… Experience is overrated.  Some people say they have twenty years’ experience, when, in reality, they only have one year’s experience, repeated twenty times.”

– Richie Norton by way of Steven Covey

This idea is what I have been trying to explain to others, but until I read that quote, I struggled with how to explain it.

In my professional career I would see people with “20 years’ experience” receive a promotion because of their “experience”, when in reality they received the promotion because of their time served.  If one is not constantly learning, constantly challenging thoughts and processes and failing/learning from it, then I would argue they have “one year’s experience, not twenty”.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in 2006 and started my first role as a software developer that year.  So in the eyes of others, I have seven years’ experience.  Since I graduated, I have also done the following:

  • Got married to the love of my life
  • Purchase a home
  • Became a father
  • Completed a Master’s Degree in management
  • Completed a class in Lean Six Sigma
  • Completed training in Agile Software Development
  • Attended various industry conferences
  • Co-founded a software/web development company (that “failed”, meaning I sold my half to my partner to focus on what I saw as better opportunities)
  •  Co-founded 2 real estate investment companies and have acquired 15 units in 7 buildings
  • Got approved for a liquor license in New York and opened a wine and liquor store
  • Coached multiple small businesses on getting started and building their business
  • Spent several years working as a software developer
  • Spent several years working as a project lead for software development projects
  • Assisted (and continue to) drive continuous improvement within a Fortune 500 organization by utilizing lean/agile concepts

And the list goes on.  I would argue that I have much more than seven years’ of experience.  Time is just a number and we often times make the incorrect correlation between time and experience.

So if you are young and fall into this same boat, sit back and reflect on how much experience you really have, regardless of time.

 

Tom Sylvester is an Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor and Lean/Agile Coach.  He has started multiple businesses and is passionate about helping others achieve their goals, both personally and professionally.  He lives in Rochester, NY with his wife and daughter.  Follow him on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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