experience leads to knowledgePart 9 of 10 based on the principles of the great Albert Einstein.

Einstein’s own thoughts on knowledge can be based on his quote:

“Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience.”

Not sure if I agree 100%, but experience leads to the vast majority of knowledge. In my own experience, I have found this to be true to a very high degree.

Knowledge Is More Than Education.

When I was working as an electrician I placed a lot of emphasis on new training, just as I do in my current business, because there is always something to learn and things develop and change over time. Having said that, experience does come into things along the way.

This could be said to be proved in one of the meetings I had to attend that involved a highly educated engineer. In my role as qualifying supervisor and with my overall experience in the electrical contracting and installation industry, I was presented with a task of getting a job signed off by the client for whom this engineer was responsible.

The engineer in question had a reputation. Such a reputation that people who met him did not question him and were really quite scared of him. I, however, was confident that I knew enough and my experience could get me through, which it actually did. Here is the story:

I arrived at the premises 2 hours before the meeting was due so that I could get a feel of it and check through the snagging list so that I could check through it to be sure things were in order. I noticed that some things were not satisfactorily done and so I made a note to list these things myself.

There was one particular issue I noticed that was a point of proper installation practice rather than a deviation from regulations. I checked my regs book and could find no deviation listed. I also checked another rule book (supplied by the organization for which the work was being done) that was required to be adhered to and could not find any mention of it there either. Having done all of my checks, I was happy that I had a thorough and complete list of work that needed to be carried out to meet the necessary criteria to get the job signed off.

So, the meeting started and almost immediately I was asked to open the equipment that had the “discrepancy” in that I could find no regulation and safety problem with. The first thing that the engineer mentioned was that the installation did not comply with regulation in the way it was installed and they still wanted it to be changed. I agreed with the engineer that it was not the best practice, but told him that I had to disagree with him on the point of regulation. He, and the others around, didn’t expect this and they all looked really shocked that I would question this well qualified and respected person. After all, HE was the one with the degree and the high education.

knowledge of regulationsHe stated that he had never before been questioned and that he wanted the work done to comply with the regulations.

I said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t find anything in the regulations to state that this is unacceptable.”

He replied: “I know it’s a regulation so please don’t insult my intelligence.”

I got the regulation book out of my bag and said: “Please show me so we can clear this up.”

Taking the book, he looked through it for several minutes and then said “It’s not here.”

I replied: “Thank you, I didn’t think I was mistaken, but needed to be sure myself.”

“But it IS in the (name of the organization’s own rule book).” He said.

“Please show me because I can’t find it in there either” I said producing the document.

“It’s not here either” he said in a surprised tone.

In the end we agreed to leave it, but to note that as a point of electrical installation practice it be not encouraged in the future.

He agreed with my list and also agreed that the work would be completed over the next week and signed off the following Monday.

I knew from experience that you must check things BEFORE you make statements that are supposed to be fact. I already KNEW that he was mistaken. I had been in a situation in the past where an inspector, who was very highly educated, had criticized me and I felt rather stupid. This criticism was unfounded because the “facts” were not actually correct. Using this experience to raise my awareness and knowledge of this kind of situation, I made sure I could not be caught out again.

I had 25+ years experience in the industry and the engineer had less than 10. He had an honours degree in engineering, but he actually KNEW no more than I did about the job I did. My knowledge came not only from learning through books and courses, but by the experience of being “in the field”. There were things he knew a lot more about, but that was not my concern at the time because I had no need to know those other things.

The lesson to learn from this is that just because somebody has a degree, it doesn’t necessarily mean they KNOW more than you. Often it means they hold information well in order to pass an exam. If you can process information and then use that information to take action on something, you will learn from experience whether it works based on results. This is knowledge that serves you.

This applies in your business too. When you learn something from someone and you know it works because you have tried it and it’s your experience, don’t let anyone deter you or try to change your belief. Your experience is that it works and your own knowledge is based on that experience.

It’s surprising what you already know, so don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and encourage others to develop their own knowledge through experience.

To the future,

Barrie Evans

My knowledge is grown through experience. Your knowledge can be too. Even moreso if you take advantage of the experience and knowledge of a great mentor. For affordable and effective mentoring, you can join me in a group led by one of the top marketers around today. Click here to find out more.