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Experience, Education, Expertise

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There are clichés that may not be true. Let me give you some of them.

Practice makes perfect. Not necessarily true. Practice makes permanent. That is true. Ask any golfer.

If you have a defective golf swing and you practice it constantly, then you will be permanently defective.

Experience is the best teacher. Not necessarily true. Only evaluated experience teaches best. Many people continue committing the same mistakes not because they lack experience. They simply never evaluated their past experiences.

Experience is not the same as education.

There are many educated people without experience, and they make poor teachers and instructors. But, then again, there are many experienced people without education and they are prevented from rising to higher levels of performance.

I have heard people say, “I do not have to finish school. I will get a job because isn’t experience more important than the education?” Once in a while, an undereducated person hits the jackpot. They earn a lot of money because of their business acumen. Yet none of these people would ever encourage their children not to have good education.

What is the difference then between education and experience?

As someone once said: Education is what you get from reading the small print. Experience is what you get from not reading it.

Experience alone does not make an expert. There is a difference between experience and expertise.

Simply repeating the same task over and over is no guarantee you will become better at it. The repeated practice should be directed toward the improvement of your performance. And when the repeated performance is done correctly, prolonged, it produces a library of specialized knowledge.

That is what makes a person an expert.

An expert’s mind is a wide, deep storage system of patterns that the expert will use when the situation calls for it. Just like a chess grandmaster who sees four or even five moves ahead. You and I can be an expert.

If we seriously want to be one, each day offers us an opportunity to gain new experience. Our skills are developed from there, but only if we extract meaning each time. That is why lazy people will never become experts. They go for routine, and they love shortcuts. A lazy person’s favorite cliché is “The end justifies the means.” And the moment they achieve their tiny goals, they rest. Not so with people of drive and passion.

They challenge the status quo. They long for new learning. They seek more education, and they do different things.

Not a moment is wasted. Not a single experience ignored. Every encounter is evaluated, and then the meaning from it is extracted.

Over time, this person becomes an expert. He becomes a sage on stage. He now has a wide and deep storage system of specialized knowledge and experiences—and people marvel at his wisdom. Then, the world brands him as an expert.

So now that you have education, now that you have experience, and now that you have become an expert, what comes next?

Here is the most important of them all: You need to build your character. You use your expertise to build on God’s Kingdom plans and not for your own agenda. This way, God uses you more, to accomplish more for His sake, and not for yours.

I have met people who have used their expertise for their own tiny, puny empire’s interest, and at the end of the day they lose everything. Such people were able to climb up the ladder of their success because of their expertise but fall down hard because of their lack of character.

Do not fall into this trap. For after all, God is not concerned with your success as He is with your character.

Print ed: 07/13

 

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