What is experience?


Opinion: What is experience?


Based on Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the definition of experience is: a) direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge; b) the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation or participation; c) practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in a particular activity; d) something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through; e) the act or process of directly perceive events or reality.

Understanding what “experience” means seems easy. However, let’s take a deeper analysis of this word and its meaning.

Two or more people looking at the same event will have different reactions to it and this depends on their personality and knowledge. This leads us to conclude that the experience of each person depends on what is perceived, analyzed and kept after observing an event.

There are a few methods to evaluate the personality of people. One of them identifies the following blocks of attributes to create profiles: introvertive or extravertive, sensitive or intuitive, thinker or emotional and, judging or perceptive. Based on “CarrrerPlanner.com”, 13.8% of the US population belongs to the group of people that are “introvertive, sensitive, emotional and judging” (ISEJ). Based on the same source, the percentage of US population that belongs to the group of people that are “extravertive, intuitive, thinker and perceptive” (EITP) is 3.2%. In theory, this last group will achieve consistent outcomes when they have experience in something.

Now, imagine an ISEJ and an EITP persons exposed to the same event. The experience of these two individuals, most likely, will be different as it will depend on their personal attributes.

Based on a TedX presentation by Victor Kuppers about the attitude of people, there is a way to determine the “value” of a person. This “formula” suggests that the value of a person depends on his/her knowledge, skills and attitude. By using this formula and concept, two people receiving the same training for the same activity, using the same training material, at the same time and the same trainer will perform differently during the execution of such activity. Victor indicates that the attitude plays a significant role in the outcome of the execution of the activity. This attitude is related to the personality of each individual and it directly affects the experience.

I believe it is important to recognize that, as part of the definition of experience, there is something that is not intrinsically implicit within its definition. When someone performs an activity, it is expected that its outcome will achieve whatever was the intention of it. This intention is typically related with science, common sense or any other criterion/criteria that will validate the outcome of such activity. When defining experience, we assume that the person performing an activity has the right knowledge, skills and attitude that allows him/her to achieve the expected outcome consistently, validated by the criterion used during the creation of the activity. This is “valid experience”.

Assuming the previous explanation is applicable to a population, a small percentage of people will have the experience necessary to perform the activities assigned to them consistently and obtaining results that are in compliance with the criteria used to validate them.
As a final note, it is possible to have many years of experience doing things wrong or partially wrong. How many times we had attended meetings where the host asks each attendee for the number of years of experience to add them all and show the accumulated years of experience of the group? Assuming that 3.2% of a population has the best combination of personal attributes, the right number of years of experience will be obtained by multiplying the sum of all those years by 0.032. In other words, in a group of 100 people, the number or years of “valid experience” is retained only by about 3 persons of the group.








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