Opinions are like noses, everyone’s got one. Experiences on the other hand are highly valuable.
In every culture elders hold positions of respect and honor. Their depth and wisdom make them a valuable asset, because they provide guidance and leadership. And their value is not based on their judgements or opinions, it’s based on their experiences.
You can learn so much from the people around you. We are a collection of our experiences. They form and shape us into the people we are today. And when you take an interest in others’ experiences you can grow exponentially.
Ask people for their experiences
Instead of asking people for advice or suggestions, ask for their experiences. If you’re facing a challenge, seek out people who may have related experiences and ask them:
- Have you ever encountered a similar situation?
- What did you do?
- What worked?
- What would you do differently?
- What did you learn from this experience?
Approach each conversation with an inquisitive mind, and let them tell you a story.
The value of asking for experiences is in the story. Not only will you hear the facts, but you’ll learn about the context and emotions involved in the situation. You’ll hear about the players, and what influenced them. And you’ll gain insights you probably would never think to ask about.
You never know what you’ll hear, but you’ll often receive a pearl of wisdom.
Sharing experiences stops you from judging others
When you share an opinion or advice, you’re judging the other person. You may have the best intentions and share the advice from a very caring place, but you’re still judging.
When you give advice, you’re telling someone what they should do based on your experience. You’re interpreting the situation, and comparing it to how you approached issues in the past. You might give the advice based on actual experience, or you might give it based on a hypothesis. But either way, you’re making a judgement and telling someone what to do.
Sharing experiences changes the dynamic. Instead of judging, you’re sharing a story. You can talk freely about what you’ve done in the past, and how it may be relevant for someone else. You’re not telling them what to do. Rather you’re telling a story, and providing an opportunity for them to learn from your experiences.
They can take what they want. They can ask more questions. They can choose what to act upon. And what you think is a minor aspect of your story might just be the pearl of wisdom they needed to move forward.
Seek experiences / Share experiences
Experiences are all around us. Everyone has stories that you can learn and grow from. Some will come from people with direct experience, and others will come from tangents you may never have considered.
Choose to be curious. Seek out experiences so you can grow faster, and in return share your experiences freely. Experiences offer so much more value than an opinion.