No. 708



There are a lot of things in this world that money can buy, but experience is not one of them. It’s only after the fact that we can say, “been there, done that.” Someone once said that experience is what you’ve got when you are too old to get a job.
That is what I thought of a while back when a friend made an unusual request of me. It seems one of his nephews has a friend who is about to graduate from college and he wanted me to talk with him about his career choices and what it takes to succeed in life. Of course I am always happy to visit with anyone, especially a young person if there is a chance I can share something useful and help point them in the right direction.
To be sure, we can buy or pay for an education, and these days it’s gotten awfully expensive in some quarters, but experience, that’s a different story. We have to actually be there, participate and apply what we have learned to gain experience. It’s our responsibility to make sure we are getting the right kind of experience to have the best chance for success, something we all desire. Here, I am reminded of the man who put on his resume that he had 15 years’ experience in his particular line of work. It turns out that he didn’t have 15 years’ experience, but he had one year experience repeated 15 times.
At this point it might be good to pause and define experience to make sure we are on the same page. The dictionary says that experience is “knowledge or skill derived from actual participation or training.” Again, we actually have to be there in person to gain the experience we desire and. in due time, produce a satisfying result. For the time you are investing in reading this column to be meaningful, it’s necessary to ask you some basic questions. Keep in mind that nothing I say or ask is meant to be disrespectful or too personal.
Are you satisfied with the total experiences you have gained thus far? Are they producing the kind of results you want? What would you change if you had the chance to do it all over? Of course these are questions only you can answer. I find that a lot of people operate on the theory that there is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over. One of the keys to personal success is to do our very best to do it right the first time, otherwise we are wasting some valuable time, and in many cases this will lead to frustration and failure.
As I thought about this column, I came up with several careers or jobs where it’s important to have the right kind of experience, and lots of it. I would want my heart surgeon, or any surgeon for that matter, to have plenty of experience. Same for the pilot flying the airplane I am on, and my favorite is parachute packers. No room for inexperience here. Of course, these are life and death issues and this is where we want those involved to have the most and best experience. Again, you can’t buy this kind of experience, you must gain it though years of study, practice and training.
When it comes to starting out in life, like the young man graduating from college I mentioned earlier, here are four things I would recommend to anyone who wants to gain the right kind of experience. No. 1 – Pay attention to detail, as this is where most failures occur. It’s doing the little things right that makes the difference. No. 2 – Don’t take short cuts. Short cuts often produce short-term success, but long-term failure. No. 3 – Develop the right temperament. Don’t run hot and then cold. Remember the turtle and the hare. No. 4 – Don’t quit too soon.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)