Gary Klein and Karl E. Weick

The only thing that the passage of time achieves is to move you closer to retirement or termination. Too often, we treat experience as a noun rather than as a verb, something to accumulate (“I had an experience”) rather than something to discover (“I experienced . . .”). A nasty barrier to the buildup of experience is buried in this innocent-sounding sentence: “I have learned a lot from this experience.” To see the deception that’s involved, contrast the statement “I have learned a lot from being in the water” with the statement “I have learned to swim.” People don’t learn to swim “from” the experience of being in the water. They learn to swim “through” the experience of getting better at going through the motions of swimming. The meaning of the experience becomes clear in the course of the process itself.

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