Saturday Sage: Experience Can Derail Your Life

Most job seekers are not brave enough to include bad experiences on their resumes. But painful experiences are more valuable than good when it comes to personal development.

Every resume has a place to list experience.  You dig deep to include every good thing you can possibly think of. Especially your greatest accomplishments. Naturally your good and painful experiences contribute to the person you have become.

The conversations go like this.  “Nice to meet you.  What kind of work do you do?  Where did you grow up?  Where did you go to school”?  The questions come one after another but eventually the issue of your “experience” is the main topic. And in those moments, you mentally run to the great things you’ve been a part of. 

Nice to meet you. What kind of work do you do? Image of a kid with stuffed dinosaurs.

Bring value by remembering good experiences, reflecting on painful experiences, and learning from both.

What benefits come from painful experiences that make new experiences even better?

Fess up!  Look your mistakes in the eye and learn something about yourself.  Don’t transfer blame to others.  Learn something about the situation.

You gain confidence and humility when you reflect on painful experiences.

“The quality of people’s experiences and the ways people learn from them will tell you more about their actual qualifications than a number of years spent in a “leadership position.” Anzheilika

Lessons from experience catapult you to the next experience. Warning: Admiring past accomplishments and dwelling on past experiences derails your life.

“The feeling of knowing leads us to rationalize our past choices—and the urge to do so grows stronger the more experience we acquire.” Ed Catmull – Pixar

The feeling of knowing can be dangerous. Image of an alligator hiding with it's mouth open.

The 9 dangers of experience:

  1. Closed mind.
  2. Lack of interest.
  3. Sleepwalking.
  4. Overconfidence.
  5. Useless traditions.
  6. Feeling of “arrived.”
  7. Comparison to others.
  8. Boasting.
  9. Skewed Vision.

New experiences change everything, including the things that you don’t want to change.

A tight grip on past experiences guarantees a bumpy ride. The time invested in learning particular skills is helpful for a time.  But soon, a better way shows up. 

Life gets better when we take risks with new experiences, new conversations, and new thought.  

7 Questions when Looking in the Mirror

  1. Have I spent too much time doing the same things?
  2. How much do I long for new experiences?
  3. How recent are my new experiences?
  4. How might my experiences focus too much on me personally?
  5. Am I too stubborn to allow new experiences to surprise me?
  6. When do I initiate new experiences, or do I wait for them to come to me?
  7. Are the people who know me tired of my experiences?  
What do you prefer? Fear or curiosity. Image of an elderly man with a cane.

5 Sage’s questions regarding experience:

  1. Has too much of the same experience blinded you?
  2. Are you really open to new experiences?
  3. Will your new experiences come from current relationships?
  4. Will you greet new experiences with fear or curiosity?
  5. Are your new experiences likely to be too similar to past ones?

The Sage sifts through potential experiences and chooses ones that bring benefit and discards ones that are harmful. 

A sage:

  1. Chooses new experiences that are beneficial and rejects repeating old experiences.
  2. Loves the opportunity of fighting through painful experiences.
  3. Feels burdened to watch others participate in painful experiences. 
  4. Applauds first and most when people benefit from painful experiences.

Plan your Experience Expedition:

Ask 3 people you respect, how they got their experiences and what they learned.

Try one new experience this week that others seem to love.

Write your 3 favorite experiences and send a thank you to someone who was there.

Still curious:

How to Overcome the Voice of Experience


This post is a collaboration between Dan Rockwell and Stan Endicott.

Note: I relax my 300-word limit on weekends.