Experience is not the best teacher

In recent hirings, I talked with several managers about experiences of candidates. We wanted to look for candidates with experiences that we needed. We put that in job description. Many resumes we received had 15 years of experiences in a particular field but those candidates either moved too often but stayed too short from organizations to organizations or did not grow much from their positions. They looked like having one year of experience 15 times. There were candidates with fewer years of experiences but they passed our strict tests with a high flag.

Why has experience helped some and not others?

Dr. John C. Maxwell said that we begin our lives as empty notebooks. Every day we have an opportunity to record new experiences on our pages. The problem is that not all people make the best use of their notebooks. Few who do make use of their notebooks often reread what they wrote and reflect on it. Reflection turns experience into insight. Experience teaches nothing, evaluated experience teaches everything. In other words, experience is automatic, insight is not.

Dr. John C. Maxwell taught about experiences:

  1. We experience more than we understand. In order to close the gap between understanding and experience, write it down and reflect on it daily.
  2. Our attitude toward unplanned and unpleasant experiences determine our growth.
  3. Lack of experience is costly.
  4. Experience is also costly. We can not gain experience without paying a price. Experience gives the test first and the lesson later.
    Mark Twain: I know a man who grabbed a cat by the tail and he learned 40 percent more about cats than the man who didnt.
  5. Not evaluating and learning from experience is more costly. It’s a terrible mistake to pay the price for experience and not receiving the lesson.
    Mark Twain: if a cat sits on a hot stove, that cat won’t sit on that hot stove again. In fact, that cat won’t sit on a cold stove either.
  6. Evaluated experience lifts a person above the crowd.

How do we apply this lesson? I have a habit of writing down what happened to me since high school. Shihan Arakaki (founder and grandmaster of Musokai Karate) taught me to write down both what happened as well as what I learned. Now Dr. Maxwell taught me to write down my experience, my thoughts, my learning, and really spend time to reflect on it. The entire process takes less than 15 minutes daily but it has been a life-changing habit. It will be for you too.

For more details, please read Leadership Gold by Dr. John C. Maxwell or join one of my mastermind groups.

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This is the question that many people asked me. In order to answer this question, I went back to the time I studied Musokai Karate with Shihan Arakaki. When I came to his dojo, I was a confused human being. It was 2006 after my graduation from Brigham Young University. My mind was crowded with thoughts of what I would do and who I would become. I came to the United States to study in order to be someone. This was the expectation that my relatives set for me. I myself believed that having education in the United States would give me a place in the world. However, after graduation, I realized I was no better than anyone else. At work, there were many people who did not have any college degree and they were doing much better than me. My mind was full of ideas about many Vietnamese heroes who became successful in their lives after obtaining education oversea. I was facing a reality without a slightest idea that it was real. I was not prepared to be successful in life with all the education I received.

Before meeting Shihan, I really believed that the kungfu I learned in Vietnam was the best and that I would never learn any other style. After one free session with Shihan, my false belief was removed. I saw that his Karate was pure, intense, fast, and powerful but simple. In fact, it was too simple that it was too hard to grasp even just the basics. Underneath Musokai Karate, there is a deep philosophy of life. Since the first day with Shihan, it was this philosophy that attracted me.

For every week since 2006 till 2011, I studied Karate with Shihan. After 1 hour and 30 minutes in class, I would wait for others to leave the dojo and then talk to Shihan. I asked him many questions. How did he become so good with Karate? What books do he read? How would I practice a certain technique? Who is his role model? Why did my punch or kick not work? … and many dumb questions such as how can I master this technique by the next day?

From those after-hour teachings that Shihan poured into me, I was introduced to the great samurai Musashi, Karate masters such as Itoshu, Motobu, Oyama, Nagamine, and many authors such as Ayn Rand, Emmanuel Todd.

I read everything Shihan mentioned. What was powerful in those conversations was that Shihan never told me what to do. He would share with me by answering my questions and then ask me thought-provoking questions. I learned both how to think and what to think from Shihan. One powerful method from those conversations that became my habit was that I would read everything I could find on a certain subject. Shihan would ask me after I read a book how I found what to read next. I would tell him my answer and he would ask more questions to make me think. From there, I would find many books from just one book and read them. I applied this method to read about Karate in those years studying with Shihan. I applied this method to learn everything about automation testing at work during my first 3 years of employment. I applied this method to read everything about investing. I applied this method to learn about leadership.

Reading alone would stir the mind but would only give me book knowledge. Another habit that I obtained from Shihan was that after I read about something, I would apply it right away. When I learned about some Karate technique from reading, I would apply it to my practice and sparring. It became my habit and helped me learn by both reading and practicing.

I applied this method to learn about coaching. I was coached by one of the most powerful human beings since 2006. I just did not know the term for it but Shihan coached me powerfully since the first day I entered his dojo. When I first learned about coaching from Christian Simpson and John Maxwell as part of John Maxwell Team program, I set a goal to be the master at coaching.  I read many books about coaching; I found many master coaches to learn from; and I keep practicing what I learn in every conversation. What also was helping me was what I learned from Musokai Karate and Shihan Arakaki. The basics were the hardest and most difficult to master. The same applies to coaching. The basic skills such as being present, listening and asking powerful questions are what set the master coaches apart from the rest. When the coach is in the moment with and listens deeply to the client, powerful questions will come to help clients get on the right path and fight off any self-limiting belief; just like in a fight, powerful moves will come at the right time with the right amount of power to the winner.

To learn more about Musokai Karate and Shihan Arakaki, please visit www.musokai.info

To contact the author for coaching service, please email him at hoanmd@gmail.com

The science of living comfortably

[The wisdom described below has worked for us. It has enabled us to save in order to have capital for investment] 

Young man receives a salary sufficient to keep him and his family fairly comfortable. Then comes a promotion and an advance in salary of a hundred thousand dollars a year.
Does he lay the extra thousand dollars away in the savings account and continue living as before? He does nothing of the sort.
Immediately he must trade the old car in for a new one. A porch must be added to the house. The wife needs a new wardrobe. The table must be set with better food and more of it. (Pity his poor, groaning stomach.)
At the end of the year is he better off with the increase? He is nothing of the sort!
The more he gets the more he wants, and the rule applies to the man with millions the same as to the man with but a few thousands. It’s just as simple as described above.