How to Gain Experience

The fastest way to gain experience is to live. By my estimation it will take approximately 3 years to gain approximately 3 years of experience. You can make the process shorter by using someone else’s experience, not your own. But really, nothing beats your personal experience when it comes to making decisions and taking action.

Years ago I wanted to develop a sales course focused on cold calling. I read a lot about it and that got me a fair understanding of the process involved. But as a speaker, relating someone else’s experience can’t hold a candle to sharing your own personal experiences. So I took a part time sales job in an industry where the sales people had to be fierce cold callers. I got beat up, I got beat down, but I learned. I learned first hand what worked and what didn’t. The experiences I was able to talk about while teaching that class were my own and it gave me a ton of credibility.

Experience will do the same for you.

The fact is, gaining experience is crucial for personal and professional growth. You can learn new skills, gain knowledge, and boost your confidence in different areas of life. To gain experience, there really are no shortcuts. However, there is a process to follow so that gaining 3 years of experience doesn’t take longer than 3 years and may take less.

So here it is:

• Determine what areas you want to gain experience in. Whether it’s related to your career, hobbies, personal development, or other interests, having clear goals is essential.

• Start by researching the field or subject you want to gain experience in. Read books, articles, watch videos, and take online courses to build a foundational understanding.

• Connect with people who are experienced in your chosen field. Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to meet professionals and experts. Networking can provide opportunities for mentorship and collaboration.

• Volunteering is an excellent way to gain experience while giving back to your community or a cause you care about. Nonprofit organizations, charities, and local community groups often need volunteers for various roles.

• Look for internships or apprenticeship programs related to your field of interest. These opportunities provide hands-on experience and may lead to full-time positions.

• Consider part-time jobs or entry-level positions in your chosen field. These positions may not pay as well initially, but they can provide valuable on-the-job experience. That experience could one day prove priceless.

• If applicable, offer your services as a freelancer or consultant in your area of expertise. Freelancing allows you to gain experience, build a portfolio, and potentially earn income.

• Start personal projects or side ventures related to your interests or career goals. These projects allow you to apply your knowledge and skills in a practical way.

• Be open to feedback from mentors, colleagues, or supervisors. Constructive criticism can help you improve and grow in your chosen field.

• Stay updated with the latest trends, technologies, and developments in your field. Continuous learning ensures that your experience remains relevant.

• Keep a record of your experiences, achievements, and skills gained. This can be useful when updating your resume or portfolio.

• Periodically reflect on your experiences and assess how they align with your goals. Adjust your approach if needed to ensure you’re gaining the right kind of experience.

• Gaining experience takes time, and you may encounter setbacks along the way. Stay patient, persistent, and committed to your goals.

• Don’t be discouraged by failures or setbacks. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Use them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

• Once you have more experience, you can share what you know by teaching, writing, or mentoring. This can further deepen your understanding and expertise.

• Gaining experience is an ongoing process. You, no matter how hard you try, you cannot create experience, you must undergo it. It’s important to stay motivated, adaptable, and open to new opportunities as you work toward your goals. As you gain experience, you will become more successful in your chosen field.

And here is one of the most interesting things about experience. One day you’ll look around and determine that you may be the most experienced person in the room. That may lead you to believe that at last you have enough experience. But if the experience you’ve acquired over the years is the right experience, that belief won’t last long. You’ll quickly realize that there is no such thing as “enough” experience.

So keep living, life is teaching everyday and if you’re paying attention you’ll never stop gaining valuable experience.

How to Build a Culture of Continuous Learning 

The most successful people learn something new almost everyday. So do the most successful organizations. Building a culture of continuous learning within an organization is crucial. It is the bedrock or organizational growth. It is the engine of innovation and adaptability. 

Here are some of the most important steps to take if you’re trying to establish such a culture of continuous learning in your organization.

  1. Begin by securing commitment from senior leadership to prioritize and promote continuous learning. Let me be perfectly clear on this. If you’re a Training and Education Leader without total commitment from your senior leadership then you didn’t have, don’t have, and will never have a culture of continuous learning. When leaders emphasize the importance of learning, it sets the tone for the entire organization.
  1. Clearly communicate the value and benefits of continuous learning to everyone. Help them understand that learning is not just about personal growth. It is also about improving performance.  It is about enhancing job satisfaction. It is about staying competitive in a rapidly evolving world.
  1. Encourage your people to set individual learning goals.  The goals should align with their professional development and organizational objectives. These goals can be tied to specific skills, knowledge areas, or competencies. They should be relevant to their roles, or perhaps to roles they one day hope to fill.
  1. Ensure that all team members have access to a variety of learning resources. This could include internal training programs, workshops, online courses, mentoring, or coaching. Consider offering a diverse range of options to cater to different learning styles and preferences.
  1. Encourage your people to allocate regular time for learning within their work schedules. This could be in the form of dedicated “learning hours” or flexible work arrangements. These should allow individuals to pursue learning initiatives without hindering their productivity.
  1. Create an environment that encourages curiosity, experimentation, and knowledge sharing. Encourage people to ask questions, seek feedback, and share their learnings with others. Recognize and reward those who actively engage in learning activities.
  1. Promote a culture where mistakes and failures are seen as learning opportunities rather than sources of blame or punishment. Encourage people to take risks, learn from their experiences, and share their insights with others.
  1. Provide regular feedback to team members on their learning progress. Offer consistent guidance on areas where improvement is needed. Encourage managers and team members to have open conversations about learning and development.
  1. Encourage collaboration and cross-functional learning by organizing group projects and team-based learning activities. Create an environment where employees can learn from one another and leverage their collective expertise.
  1. Seniors leaders want to know if the education programs are working. Establish metrics and evaluation methods to track the impact of continuous learning initiatives. Assess the effectiveness of training programs. Gather feedback from participants, and use data to refine and improve learning opportunities.

Organizations that learn more also tend to earn more. The same can be said for people. Earn comes before learn in the dictionary but in life it’s the opposite. Ya gotta learn before you can earn. 

Building a culture of continuous learning is an ongoing process. It requires consistent effort, reinforcement, and adaptability to changing needs. By encouraging a learning mindset throughout the organization, you can create an environment that encourages growth, innovation, and continuous improvement.

Want more of LeadToday? I’ve changed things up on my Twitter feed for subscribers. I recently began publishing two or three videos each week focusing on an element of Authentic Leadership. I’ll post these videos each Tuesday and Thursday morning. Sometimes a bonus video pops up at other times during the week. They will be about 10 minutes long so we can get into the topic in a more meaningful way. The investment for subscribers in still only $4.99 a month. That’s for at least 80 MINUTES of quality video content on leadership a month. 
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