So in the last two posts (Part 4 and Part 5) of this series, I talked about Leveraging Your Knowledge. In Part 4 we looked at leveraging your skills and Part 5, your resources. But in this post, we’re going to get into the third element, Experience, and explore some of the ways you can leverage it to your advantage.

So, what does I mean to leverage your experience? While I tend to consider experience as part of your overall knowledge, a question that is often asked is: “What’s the difference between knowledge and experience?” So, let’s try to answer that first.

Here’s a very simple explanation. You might think of knowledge in general as a bunch of dots representing experience and we are connecting or attempting to connect those dots in some intelligent way. Now while a lot has been written on this, I am just going to give you my basic take on it.

Let’s say, for instance, that you know how to use a table saw, a router, a sander, a blender and a knife. That’s knowledge in the form of individual skills. Building a chair, a guitar or crafting a delicious smoothie might be considered an experience, thus connecting the skills dots. Doing those things over time would help you develop those experiences as broader skills, in some cases, that are ultimately used to connect to bigger experiences, and so on.

Here’s another one. You live in the USA, but you’ve studied French history, you know something about French culture and where all the coffee houses in the country are located. You’ve also learned some French. Finally, you take a trip to France and you put all that basic knowledge, and some existing skills to work and that becomes the experience. Later, if you become interested in say, Finland or Columbia, you’ll have a model to work from.

Because I have presented my view of Knowledge with the elements of Skills, Resources and Experiences, I see all of these as integrated with each other, so it might seem at times that there is some overlap. That’s OK as long as you understand the differences.

So, back to leveraging the experiences, I already gave you a hint. Your individual experiences may become dots themselves that, when connected with other experiences, become larger and more significant skills internally. Those may allow you to build better, more innovative products more efficiently. Or, provide a broader range of services. Or expand your career capabilities.

And again, I want to emphasize the value of these simple ideas. They are all building blocks. The more you understand about each block, the easier it is to put them together to form that solid foundation your business or professional career is built on. If you’re maybe thinking that this stuff is obvious, and everyone knows this, all I can say to you is that most people don’t know this.

We never really learned it this way. We’ve been fed much more complicated theories and accepted behaviors with broad assumptions for a long time. So we’re not used to “deconstructing” things this way. But in many respects, that’s exactly what we doing.

And, it’s what I call Resimplification!

And you’ll hear that term used more by me down the road. (Hint: I pretty much own it. It’s a book title.)

Ideally, your experience prepares you to interact with other persons or entities in a way that facilitates better outcomes.

But now, what about leveraging your experience externally? And what does that mean? Well, again, I see it as having to do primarily with dealing in the outside world, external to the inner workings of your business or professional attributes.

Ideally, your experience prepares you to interact with other persons or entities in a way that facilitates better outcomes. But there is a key factor you should keep in mind and that is that you have to be able to classify your experience. In other words, how does your previous experience match up with a particular external interaction that you’re having?

Here’s an unlikely example but one I think will illustrate the point. Let’s say you’ve learned to make 100 different kinds of martinis. You’ve become very good at it over time and while you were at it, you learned something about bartending. But you only know how to make martinis. One evening you’re attending a gala event at the luxurious home of a friend. Of course, they have a bartender, but he gets sick before the event has barely started. Your friend is aware of your so called “bartending” skills and asks you to step in. What do you do?

Well, there’s a lot of possibilities in this situation because it’s a bit more casual. You could probably wing it. But in a more demanding professional setting, the answer requires some careful thought. Sometimes we want something bad enough that we’re willing to use mismatched experience to get the deal or the gig. Most of us have done that at one point or another but it’s risky business. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

The bigger point is, the more you understand the relationship between your experience and the interaction you are engaging in, the more likely you are to see a good result.

Now in the next post, I’m going to stay on the Next Level quest and we’re going to move into something called Market Messaging. You can’t get to the next level in a vacuum. And I’ll have a lot to say on that.

And remember, if you have questions, thoughts, or just need some help with any of this, just contact me and I will respond appropriately as soon as possible.

Destination: Next Level Part 7 >>

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