As we talked by phone, it was hard to believe ten years had passed since Shannon and I first met. It was good to reconnect and tell good stories.
I remembered that first meeting with Shannon and her interest in doing work like that of the team Sheri and I were leading. She was so excited, but also troubled. As I listened I sensed two things; one was how she viewed our work and the other a concern about her own professional history. I challenged her view of our work – did she see it as real work? She then cleared up the second concern as she talked about how she struggled with walking away from all her experience in human resources.
In an instant it all came back so clearly. I had been out of college for a year. It was a great year and I had learned a lot and accomplished good things. I was talking with the human resource manager about the new position and promotion that was being offered to me. I had said to him just what Shannon had said to me 23 years later, “I don’t want to walk away from my experience.” I found myself saying to Shannon exactly what Bob had said to me, “That’s experience. It’s tucked under your belt and no one can take it away from you. It will go everywhere you go.”
The intersection of my story and Shannon’s story in and of itself tells us something important about experience – it was an experience. And an experience like I had in meeting someone cool like Shannon – and allowing the experience to deepen through relationship – is a critical ingredient that creates flow in my life.
If limited to a narrow view of experience – what I ‘did’ during a specified time – I cheat myself of the joy of performing on the stage of life. I don’t perform because I trained. I trained because I wanted to perform.
Rhonda, one of my Coaching Clients, has a strategy to help her achieve her goal. It says. “Connect experience with the influence needed to help people achieve their goals.” In the process of setting this strategy, I was struck by how she defined experience: “A rehearsal of knowledge.”
Rhonda and Shannon – my experience with them – has helped me better understand experience in its fullness. When conscious of the fullness of experience we are better equipped to expand our influence as needed. We are being consistently encouraged by our experience to confidently be who we are; to perform our authentic role on the stage of life.
And it is this level of confidence that ensures our present attention to this ongoing rehearsal of knowledge.