How many years of experience do you have?

I’m currently working my way through a great book, Speed of Trust. I discovered the book thanks to a comment made by John Hinshaw in a meeting I attended a few months ago, so I picked up a copy.

In the book, Stephen M. R. Covey identifies what he calls the four cores of trust. They are

  • Integrity
  • Intent
  • Capabilities
  • Results

On page 102, in the section on Capabilities, he mentioned something in a way that really struck me. Here I’ll quote it exactly:

On the individual level, the problem is that many people aren’t into the idea of continuous improvement. So they’re working in a company- maybe they’ve been there for ten or fifteen years- but instead of having fifteen years of experience, they really only have one year of experience repeated fifteen times! They’re not adapting to the changes required by the new global economy. As a result, they don’t develop the credibility that would inspire greater trust and opportunity. Often they become obsolete. Their company and/or the external markets outgrow them.

I’ve seen this a lot of times in my life, and as I read it this time, I asked myself “What am I doing to stay relevant? What am I doing to add to my experience?”.

When it comes to running a business online, there are external pressures that force this type of learning on us. For example, Google’s recent release of Panda may have invalidated your approach to building backlinks. If your livelihood depends on those backlinks, and the traffic they represent for you, then you have to adapt. This is the good news.

Despite the “built in advantage” of working in a space that’s constantly changing, it can be surprisingly easy to grow complacent. A year might slip by without adding any new experience to your war chest.

How to Get Experience

I decided to brainstorm a few ideas that would help me get more experience. Here’s what I came up with.

  • Take on a job that I’ve outsourced and see if I can improve the process
  • Examine the tasks that I avoid doing to see if there’s one that I should be working to master
  • Review my product roadmaps with my customers to make sure I’m still in touch with the market

How do you get experience?

What do you do to stay relevant and ensure that you’re gaining valuable experience, not just counting years? Let me know in the comments below.

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3 Responses to “How many years of experience do you have?”

  1. pixelmaster August 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    Thanks for the post. I grew complacent with my job for last 1 year. Result, not much learned in that time. I see some competitors growing fast and passing me quickly in recent times. Needed this post.Thanks.

  2. Nashville Internet Marketing September 23, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Great article. I am always reading a new book on a subject in my field once I finish the one I have. I watch videos on my subject and explore new ideas I find as well as experiment with them. I constantly perform tutorials on programs that will enhance what I am doing even if I don’t exactly see the total potential of them when I start. I watch the industry to see if there are changes I need to make to keep up. I have read The Seven Habbits book 3 times, How to Win Friends 3 times, every piece of marketing material I get my hands on I try to figure out what is working from what isn’t. My habbits are to learn and grow and become every day and many times a day. Because of this I would say I have been ahead of my markets in multiple ways by years in some cases. Your article really has some great thought and I learned to look at the work tasks I avoid to find gems thank you for this article.

  3. Albertina Trocchio May 18, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    Ironically im reading speed of trust now and certainly opened my eyes i guess no matter how many years experience we have staying relevant and purposeful is a key factor.

    I try read min half hour a day and maybe an audio book a week while traveling

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