What Can You Learn from the Experience?

Jerry Weinberg used to say something like this. This is what I remember. I don’t know if this is the actual quote:

“You paid the tuition for the experience. The learning is optional.”

The paid tuition part is about either choosing to go to school or choosing an experience—a workshop, a job, any experience at all. We chose to do something. (Yes, even a job. We chose that job.)

I wonder if we can reframe this as something like this:

We have the experience. We choose to learn from that experience.

I kind of like the first quote better. In any case, it’s about this question:

What can you learn from the experience?

Each of us has tons of experiences every day, week, month, year. We might choose to go to a workshop or conference to learn new skills. We might watch videos or hear a speaker in person. We might practice something specific (such as how I practice my fiction writing). We have the possibility of learning from that experience.

Some lessons I’m still learning. For example, if someone’s mouth is moving, even if I can’t hear that person, are they talking? Yes, they are. I should stop talking. I still haven’t reconciled my deafness with what I see, especially if I’m in a loud environment. In this case, I’ve had the same year of experience 10 times. (I’ve been deaf in my right ear for 10 years.)

I might need to reflect on when and why I keep making that mistake. (I have reflected, and I need a trigger to stop. I have more than 50 years of habits to unlearn and only 10 years of this new experience.)

Reflection isn’t just for mistakes. We might need to learn from our successes. I have the opportunity to learn when I review my Fitbit data over the course of a week, month, and year. I need to see more than a single week to understand my successes.

You might choose to perform a retrospective as a team for your project experiences. You also might need to see more than a day or a week’s worth of data. That’s why we have several options: retrospectives, kaizens, and reflections. They are not equal. Do choose the form of a reflection that fits your context.

Here’s what all reflections have in common:

  • You choose an experience (or several) to examine.
  • You gather data about that experience.
  • You examine that data to see patterns. You might be able to see the why behind the data.
  • Decide if you want to change something.
  • Generate options and then move into experiments.

My talking-over-people-in-public problem doesn’t occur often enough for me to work through a solution. I’ve paid the tuition. I’ve gathered data and examined the patterns. I know why I act that way. And, that’s enough for now. I have partial learning. I have enough information to decide if and when to change my actions.

In contrast, I often learn from my writing and publishing work (fiction and non-fiction). As I publish my writing, I learn where people discover me. I might want to do more or do less. I learn what people find useful. Sometimes, I learn what people don’t find useful. So, I learn from my writing work all the time.

Dear adaptable readers, that’s the question this week: what can you learn from the experience?

1 thought on “What Can You Learn from the Experience?”

  1. Pingback: How Do You Create Your Learning Opportunities? | Create An Adaptable Life

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