Reading, participating in lectures and seeking knowledge in courses and other forms of learning is a very important component of our professional training. However, there is an even more fundamental, and perhaps more immediate, way of learning that does not go through this kind of education.
According to research, this way can be more significant than traditional learning (including lectures and courses). It also generates connections and help to perceive new ways of dealing with situations, whether they are personal, family or professional related.
I speak of learning through the exchange of experiences with other people.
Sharing experiences, I have learned, is a very efficient way to add value to yourself and to establish connections. It is what has worked for me and I will explain why.
In this article, I will share with you the four reasons why you, as a leader, entrepreneur or simply as a person, should also learn from experience exchange.
My learning through experience exchange began after I joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). I have been a member for four years. Today, I am in a forum with other entrepreneurs, where we share our experiences facing challenges in order to improve the pillars that make up an individual: the personal pillar, the professional pillar, and the family pillar.
It was under these circumstances that I realized I was gaining a lot by sharing and hearing about other experiences. The main point for me is that there was no “advice,” consulting or mentoring atmosphere.
Experience is different from advice. Advice are guidelines: Limited, not to be discussed and no interest in the point of view of those who are advised. You know when people say, “If I were in your shoes I’d do this…”? Well, nobody likes to hear that kind of thing.
In fact, it’s something that Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the famous author of the Incerto series, always emphasizes: in a speech to a graduating class from the American University in Beirut, he was very emphatic: “Every major single piece of advice I was given turned out to be wrong and I am glad I didn’t follow them.”
The four reasons
During this period, I realized that by learning from the exchange of real experiences, I gained a lot in four aspects of my life:
- I became more self-confident in my decisions;
- I became less lonely when making serious and relevant decisions;
- I made less mistakes in making choices, I better understand consequences and unfoldings;
- I found new solutions and perspectives for the situations of my life.
The gain of all this, especially in the business world, is very valuable. We talk a lot today about the need for leaders to share more leadership powers. But self-confidence remains a key piece in a leader’s framework. The self-confidence that a leader possesses helps to stimulate the other members of his team.
In the same way, knowing that other people have gone through what you are going through helps us not to feel helpless, allowing more tranquility in conducting business. The feeling that “nobody has ever gone through what we are going through” disappears, allowing a more realistic vision of the situation; this generates less anxiety, which decreases the number of mistakes made and the possibility — thanks to the personal knowledge of fellow leaders — to find new solutions to our problems.
Learning collectively is a great opportunity. Practice sharing experiences actively, in an established network or even with your closest peers. You don’t need much to get started.
I guarantee you won’t regret it!
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