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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