Knowledgeable or Experienced

Albert Camus once said, “You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.”

Our nervous system is wired to relate experience with the time spent by an individual on that topic or situation. While, it may hold true most of the time, but it does not always. We are all unique in our own ways and we undergo different situations. The way we deal with a situation varies with factors within our control and out of our control. Of course, over time, we learn the basics, we learn to deal with external forces, we may even be able to mitigate the risk (by planning well in advance); nonetheless, we become more knowledgeable about the situation. Then again, there may arise a situation which is alien to us. Or not!

I have come across people who have worked on a particular type of work for long,

  • Case 1: A person works on a type of work and continues to do so for years, without learning other aspects.
  • Case 2: A person has worked on similar projects, but still needs guidance every time he starts a new work.
  • Case 3: A person has worked on multiple projects, but lacks management skills.
  • Case 4: A person is good at management (getting things done), but doesn’t have good knowledge about the processes or the work or the people skills.

Arguably, they all have knowledge to perform their duties and have spent more time than others but are they really experienced? Rather, will they be successful in the long run? I have always related experience with skills, maturity, and understanding of the topic. Knowledge will tell me how to work, while the experience will tell me – how to complete a work efficiently, what all could go wrong, help me tailor the approaches, and how to deal with both, people and work.

Imagine a scenario where you have been following a checklist to perform a task, you are confident of performing it again. However, there are external factors (like moving to a new environment, or permissions to access the relevant information, or any such condition) which holds you up. Your experience will tell you to be patient, careful, and try a different approach (which is not mentioned in the checklist). On top of it, experience will tell you whom to contact or how to deal with the situation, in case of failure. Knowledge can make you proud or arrogant, while experience will make humble and respectful.

It is not about the time we have spent on a particular thing, it is about what we have learnt while working on it. It’s not only the piece of work we do, it’s the way we do and with whom we do it. Most of all, experience tell you what not to do!

It’s our ability to deal with the unexpected that makes us experienced. ~ PR

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