Education vs. Experience. Their Roles in Business Success

This Cross Coaching™ topic dug in deep – fast!

Mark’s comment that lack of knowledge, or experience, can lead to an expensive education, especially in business, summed it up well. The debate raised the relevance of education and experience in business. Read on and learn what others learned.

We had 14 business people present, ready to teach what they know, or learn what they don’t, via the Cross Coaching™ platform, based on develop your business by developing others. This is advanced networking, designed to impact members who in turn impact their community more by connecting better to themselves and others.

It was Jay’s first visit and he boldly offered to be a first responder! This format demands that everyone be thoroughly present and engaged via what I call a “committed conversation’ stirred by intense listening. Jay was a perfect example of what emerges from this supportive group dynamic; he was fed and ‘coached’ by what others truly heard him say, yet Jay didn’t realize he said!

Jay shared brief excerpts from his impressive experiences in the Social Media Management industry and his Legal Studies wins. He played a role in getting an Act in Georgia amended. Jay also had a software start up company that he had to shut down because the dominant ‘face’ in that field ‘suggested’ it! We heard him say that that experience and education his family saw as a failure. Cross Coaching™ members supportively ‘played back’ what he didn’t realize he said and reminded him that you make mistakes, but you don’t become them. That chapter was a success to build on, not a failure to shelve. What a great lesson to then launch the next idea from!  A big ‘Aha’ for Jay!

Guy, of Design Ops Team Web Development is getting an education via his experiences marketing his business. He realizes he has to change his marketing strategy to meet more customers; because he’s experiencing a lack of them! He has to learn how other businesses meet customers via a focused strategy, not by chance and apply similar methods. Guy was on topic because he saw that his experiences taught him how much more he needs to learn.

There is an ever-present danger that an emphasis on education reduces the lessons one might learn from experiencing the business in the real world, not merely studying it. However, one cannot be so absorbed by her work that no time is left for continuing education.

Ofelia’s experience educated her. She went out of business recently, because she misread people. A trait they don’t teach you much about at school! She is from the Philippines, but very American. By forgetting elements of her own culture, she was forced to close her business  The good news? She met her current business partner from that experience and is now heading in a positive direction and seeking investors! She admits she was lucky. All that only took a year to flush out!

Larry shared a similar tale about misreading people and the education that experience gave him. He’s turned it into a positive because he keeps his focus on the outcome and understands that people will be a part of the journey to continued business success. He’s learned how to handle people differently, so they become a part of the solution, not a part of the problem; patiently acknowledging that people operate differently!

We all know how much we can learn from others; their experiences and education should be a constant source of learning. Be around more people. Learn from their stories – but with an intention to gracefully thank them (silently or verbally) for the lessons you learned from them that may have saved you from a similar experience.

Sandy had a slightly different take. The experiences her business success gave her over the last six years helped her learn that perhaps it’s time for another level of education!  She gained immeasurable experience from starting her business “scared” and making it work. Sandy may not see that she’s in the typical entrepreneurial cycle. She jumped in. Mastered the business. Succeeded. Ready for what’s next -another level that will challenge her and she can learn from. If the last six years were not a success, then it would have been an expensive education. Sandy can leverage on her experience and the education it gave her to boldly re-enter the marketplace with her next venture!

Did Carolina over-educate herself? I think not, because she acted on what she studied and got her product into Whole Foods! As an avid speed reader, multi-talented engineer, mother, musician, writer, cook and owner of WhollyPops, Carolina admitted she knew nothing about running a business, but read her way to learning how. Quite the experience she got from that education! One thing she learned? There are no accidents when it comes to meeting people! Like I said: be around people; learn from them.

Other members present shared what they had learned too. Be conscious about when you choose to let what you read influence you – or not! You should embrace some books and let them guide you; other books you should not!

Other lessons learned?

Isolation. This topic emerged several times. Sole business owners often operate solo. Working from home is a common factor today; even if you work for a large company. Technology and social media help us ‘feel connected’ but, I think, it can also put up a ‘social firewall’ and skirt the education one gets from experiencing face to face social “committed conversations”. A friend told me at dinner, recently, that groups of teens and ‘Millennials’ now agree to put their phones in the center of the table when dining and instead talk to each other! What has their social media experience taught them? Perhaps, they too realize how isolating it can be?

Accountability.  As Trenton reminded us, we must act on what we learn. Be accountable. To ourselves; if we are disciplined enough. To an accountability partner, if we are not. It’s easy to attend classes, seminars or industry conferences; not as easy to take account of the notes you took and apply them. Plan how to apply what you have learned, or what you have learned never becomes part of your plan!

Programming. Jean of Hypno-Tapping, raised this issue. You can get all the education you want, but if you don’t learn how to overcome your own inner programming you are less likely to experience the success you seek. Programming such as I’m not good or smart enough and the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ are examples.  Probably good fodder for future Cross Coaching™ events! Get to one. Come teach what you know. Learn what you don’t. And…develop your business by developing others. It will be quite the experience and it’s sure to be an education too!

Peter Gibson Harry Norman Realtor, Speaker, Writer, Creator of Cross Coaching™




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