After a sporting event, did you ever ask someone how they did? Their common response is either “We won,” or “We lost.” While their answer is factually correct, it doesn’t tell the complete story. For example, they could have led the whole game or made an exciting comeback, performed their best or lost due to mistakes, won by a landslide or lost by a hair. The point is, while winning or losing, being right or wrong, doing well or poorly, describes the outcome, results rarely tell the entire story. The world is rarely black or white; we learn by examining the gray areas. You have to dig beneath the surface to learn from your experience.
Prepare in the Morning; Reflect at Night
Learning through experience will help you grow personally and professionally, it’ll prevent mistakes from returning for an encore, and it’ll help you determine if you’re on course in achieving your goals. Learning from experience doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have to take the initiative, be open to your findings, and be willing to modify your behavior to yield results.
Life is a classroom. There are many opportunities to reflect on your growth. For example, you can assess your actions at the end of the day, at the completion of a project, or after a failure. You can assess your progress at the end of the year or after reaching an important milestone. The key is to pause…and learn, before marching on.
Live and Learn
Here are 20 questions that you may want to consider:
Reflect on an activity
- Did you do your best?
- Were you adequately prepared?
- What surprised you most?
- Did you ask more of others than you were willing to do yourself?
- Did you value other people’s opinions more than your own?
- Were you thinking rationally or did your emotions get the best of you?
- Did you spend more time talking or listening?
- Did you build trust or squander it?
- Did you accept responsibility for the choices that you made?
- What would you do differently next time?
Reflect on your goals
- Are your priorities receiving adequate attention?
- Are you more talk or more action?
- Do you value possessions more than relationships?
- Are you being guided by your values?
- Do you spend more time doing what you have to versus what you want to?
- Do you give more than you take?
- Are you taking anything or anyone for granted?
- Would you be happy if your kids mimicked your behavior?
- Do you follow your own advice?
- What’s holding you back?
Chalk It Up to Experience
This isn’t a call to drive yourself crazy or to dissect every move that you make, but rather to consciously pause, from time to time, and reflect on your behavior. Additionally, this isn’t a call to beat yourself up, but to give yourself constructive feedback that will help you learn and grow.
Some folks may be thinking, “I don’t have the time. I have a busy life.” The truth is, you don’t have to set aside a lot of time to do this. It’s a mindset more than an activity. We develop routine behaviors to help ourselves manage daily life. As time goes by, behaviors become habits that are imprinted in our subconscious. Wouldn’t you like to know if your habits are helping or hurting your growth? Or would you rather repeat mistakes and charge full speed ahead? Ask yourself, do you have 20 years of experience or one year of experience repeated 20 times? Stop and think. Make experience your best teacher.
Is Experience Your Best Teacher?
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