Experience is what you get right after you needed it

A favorite saying of mine is “experience is what you get right after you needed it.” That’s something I started saying some decades ago, and I still go back to it.

It sums up a reality of being human; every time you do something, you’re doing it with more ignorance than you will have later. At least, that’s the case if you’re able to learn from experience.

This is true for most tasks, from tying shoes to raising a child. Sure, there are simple tasks that people can be experts on before they do them. But, with the big, important things, we’re all working with some level of ignorance. Even if we’ve done it before.

It would be comforting to go into a task thinking that there’s nothing left to learn. It’s humbling to accept that there are things we haven’t understood or mastered. But we have to accept this, or we’ll stop learning from our experiences. It is quite possible to have lots of experience, and zero skill.

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