Experience or Prejudice

One of my small theories about life concerns people’s perception about capability, mainly personal capability.

When we are young and start to learn about life, we resemble a human sponge, soaking up information and copying the things around us, gaining experience if you like, of the things that we need to survive in everyday life.

As children, it would seem the ability to dream of endless possibilities is completely uncapped. Their fresh imaginations are free from clutter and genuinely can see everything as possible.
Getting older, even into early teenage years, there is a change. Probably using parents and peers as benchmarks, the ceiling of possibility drops and the world for these young people starts to get a little smaller.

“You’ll never be an astronaut son, you live in Peckham!”
“My mates say it’s impossible to become a professional footballer, so I’m giving it up.” 
“I’ll never be able to drive, I’m rubbish.”

By the time we are middle-aged, the world has truly become a smaller place. We already know what we can do, what we can’t do (even if we have never tried), this is seemingly the application of experience.

My theory suggests that this is much more aligned to prejudice than experience!

Now I’m not talking sex, creed or colour, but more about using our perceived experiences and other people’s perceived experiences in a negative way. This way of thinking ultimately reduces opportunities to learn, expand and get the most out of life.

If you can imagine from a very early age, taking on experience as a weight you must carry. As you get older, the weight of experience gets heavier and heavier. Eventually, we can hardly move due to the weight we are carrying.

This is probably why in most cases when we are very old, we live in a very small environment, talking mainly about the things we can’t do, or won’t do with a complete lack of imagination.
What has this got to do with business life? Well, everything!

I’ve been working with large Companies that want to be imaginative, expand their horizons, challenge the status-quo, become world leaders in their chosen field.

The reality can be that when you start to work with the people and challenge their experiences, to open a dialogue of change, the responses become very closed.

“You don’t understand, I have 25-years-experience and this won’t work”
“We’ve been doing this the same way for years and it works perfectly well”
“What I don’t know about this job, you could write on the back of a box of matches”

These types of comments will only serve to reduce the value of the output and make the input side much longer to wade through.

My challenge to you going forwards is two-fold;
1.    Be more open minded to the endless possibilities of life, before jumping in with your weight of experience to crush what could be a great idea or opportunity.
2.    For the person who quotes the 25-year experience piece - ask yourself

Is it truly 25-years-experience, or is it 1-years-experience, 25 times?

Experience or prejudice? You decide.

Andy Taylor is a Co-Founder and Director of Teal Partners Ltd, who specialise in providing supply chain and operational solutions helping to drive business performance https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/10093727/

Andy Taylor