Let me ask you a question, if you needed to have brain surgery would you choose a brain surgeon fresh out of med school who has been taught the very latest techniques in brain surgery? Or perhaps a brain surgeon who has successfully carried out this type of brain surgery for the last 30 years?
A difficult question that would cause many of us to answer differently.
Some of us would select the new surgeon stating that they would appreciate the issue and be able to apply new solutions to complete the task successfully. Whilst others would pick the surgeon who had 30 years of experience to draw on to successfully complete the task.
Sadly I’m not able to provide a definitive answer to the question, but having gained six decades of life experiences I now use these experiences to make my own decisions.
Today I find there’s not many days that go by when one of my four grown up children ask the question, ‘Dad, what would you do if ….. ?’ I usually choose to turn the question on them or rephrase it so that they get an opportunity to answer it for themselves, building their skills.
My life changed recently when I became a grandad for the first time with a grandson who’s just 16 months old. Watching and listening to him build his life skills is fascinating. He’s constantly building new pathways which will enable him to walk, talk and feed himself without thinking. With support and gentle guidance he’s learning to put food on a spoon and move it from bowl to mouth. These learned experiences will help to sustain him for the rest of his life.
There’s a lovely quote I use from time to time, ‘experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones’. My grandson is certainly making lots of new mistakes right now but over time they’re not often replicated once learnt and used.
Does this help to answer the question I posed earlier?
Setting the sails
For the last 17 years I’ve noticed that I’ve become more interested in discovering what we can learn from history. I can trace this interest back to a time in my life when I had to open up new pathways in order to get my life back on track. I had suffered a stroke and had lost the use of my left side. During my rehab a truly wonderful physiotherapist helped guide me to open up new pathways in my brain that would enable me to learn how to use my left hand, arm and leg again.
So successful was she that within 6 months I was back in work and had taken on a whole new outlook to life and work issues. There was nothing new or innovative in my rehab, she simply got me to feel things differently and react when she touched a trigger point.
Through experience I, like my grandson, had learnt and refined a new skill using the existing framework we were given. There were no new parts used they just got us to use the parts that we already have.
I’ve learned from many people over the years and some left broad footprints, Jim Rohn a self-made millionaire entrepreneur left more footprints than most and his wisdom continues to inspire and help me make decisions. Jim was often asked to predict what was going to happen in business. His response was to point towards nature, the laws of physics and history. His simple response would refer to the sun coming up in the east and going down in the west, spring followed by summer which came before autumn and winter. The world has a rhythm and this tends to dictate what happens and when. He’d bring things into focus by saying, ‘after a recession comes a boom, with a rise in markets so follows a fall’. It’s determining where we are in the cycle that sometimes prove difficult to define.
Jim explains that we all receive the same winds, but it’s the ‘set of the sails’ that will determine where our boats take us on the journey that we’re on.
Today’s business processes, procedures and regulation are borne out of previous and past experiences. At T10 Group we recently encountered an issue with a service provider that we hadn’t faced before, a new unexpected wind. We thought our processes were sound but we identified a gap that needed a solution. Needless to say this experience has taught us much and we’ve taken steps to ensure it won’t arise in the future. There was nothing new in the solution just a slight re-engineering of the pathway, the sails needed to be reset in-order that we remained on course.
Sometimes the winds change and we’re ready to adapt and continue to take advantage of the new direction that the wind is blowing from. Sometimes we’re not equipped to adapt to the new requirement, be it regulations or a change in what is required.
In the Financial Services sector we’re about to get a new wind in the shape of the Senior Managers Regime. There’s actually nothing new here, it’s just adapting to what the regulator is suggesting is done. Putting in some new pathways and training people to understand and use them, in sailing parlance, trimming the sails. To some organisations this will seem nothing more than an opportunity to tighten things up and ensure that everyone has clarity around the regulations. For others it might come as a full blown hurricane sending shivers down the spines of those who aren’t ready nor have a full appreciation or understanding of what the regulations require of them.
Experience gained is lost if not used
The good news is that experience is on hand to deal with the regulatory wind that’s blowing our way. Many of us have had experience dealing with regulation, or working as senior managers, or safely navigating through choppy waters. One thing is for sure, there will be situations where people are blown off course and others who simply don’t want to be on the journey. Whilst many will get through and take a few bumps on the journey but they will build their experiences of working within the new regulatory environment and prosper as a result.
Hundreds of decades of historical experiences and skills that have helped to shape the world that we live in today
There is a wonderful Hindu Proverb that says; ‘no physician is really good before they have killed one or two patients’. Of course this refers to building experiences.
Does this help you to answer the initial question that I posed?
Today there are a number of employers who look towards recruiting a more mature workforce. They seek out people who have an extensive catalogue of life and work experiences. These are seen as valuable members of the team, able to bring a wealth of skills and experiences with them. They need little upskilling in people skills, they’ve got these in spades already. They just need to know what goes where and how the machine works, the rest they’ve got.
There are currently thousands of retired people with experience and skills in sectors like engineering, financial, education, health, retail and other backgrounds. One major automotive manufacturer is now recruiting retired engineers to bring their experience to bear on the challenges that they are facing today. History it seems taught them well, employers recognise that these valuable experiences will be lost if they are not used and transferred to others.
As we continue to develop robotic infrastructures to support the development of organisations in the future we mustn’t lose sight of the experience that’s right under our noses. Hundreds of decades of historical experiences and skills that have helped to shape the world that we live in today. These are our sensors and guides from another time, once again they can help develop and shape the future world.
Organisations today are capturing and using massive amounts of ‘big data’ to help them plot the next steps of their particular journey. Every so often all they need to do is search out the individuals who already possess the catalogue of experiences. Explore these historical experiences, they will garner and shape the solution.
In ‘The Story of Mankind’ Hendrik Wilhelm van Loom wrote; ‘The history of the world is the record of a man in quest of his daily bread and butter’.
History teaches us much, we’ve just got to continue building our experiences and have the skills to set sails to cope with different winds. Doing this helps develop new pathways which in-turn enable us to complete our journey and continue our quest for daily bread and butter.
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