How to gain more experience in less time!

Submitted by Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN-Guest blogger, EPNRC Volunteer

Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, an executive coach and organizational consultant, wrote, “How to gain more experience in less time”. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for? Ways to do more with less time! Here are parts of his blog that shares how to gain experience in decision making as a leader without making tons of mistakes along the way….

“A story is told about a reporter who was interviewing a successful bank president. He wanted to know the secret of the man’s success. “Two words,” he was told, “right decisions.”

“And how do you make right decisions?” asked the reporter. The reply: “One word: experience.”

The reporter pressed on. “And how do you get experience?” he asked. To which the banker replied, “Two words: wrong decisions.”

We all recognize the importance of job and life experience, especially for leaders. Experience gives leaders context for important decisions that they must make and insight into how best to lead, motivate and respond to their people. Experienced leaders have been through the wringer before and can use their past learning and decisions to guide them moving forward.

Yet, for many new leaders, experience can be hard to come by. And in today’s fast-changing, competitive environment in which more and more young people are assuming leadership roles, it can be critical for them to find ways to gain experience quickly in order to ensure that they make as few “wrong decisions” as possible, for their own sake as well as for those that they lead.

What can new and aspiring leaders do to gain the benefits of experience when they simply don’t have much on-the-job learning under their belts?

  1. Go for training.
  2. Volunteer.
  3. Find a mentor/peer group.
  4. Read/watch leadership experts.
  5. Reflect and take notes.
  6. Ask for feedback.

Confucius once said, “By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”

Every new leader would be wise to take the necessary steps to gain as much wisdom as possible without having to endure the bitterness of wrong decisions.”

I have always learned a lot by going to conferences and seminars and networking at those events. Making sure to apply what I learned. Being a volunteer in different organizations and tossing out my ideas and trying new things to see how they play out has helped as well. Working with a mentor is a fabulous way to avoid some pitfalls as you learn from a person with more experience. You can also reach out to leadership experts and read more about them or watch them on YouTube or TED talks. I always take notes so I can go back to see what I learned and reflect on if it’s “stuck” in my head for future use or if I need to keep reviewing my notes. And finally I agree with Dr Hoff that asking for feedback will be beneficial. Keep in mind that the only way this works is if you use the information you are given so that you are able to grow into the leader you strive to be.

Good Luck in all your endeavors,
Kay Rosenthal PhD, RN

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