Experience Is Over-rated

The Benefits of Learning Theory Prior To Gaining Experience

We have all met people at work who have lots of experience and yet are still not that great at what they do.

If I had been an accountant for 30 years, you’d say that I had experience. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am a really good accountant just because I have experience. So why is this?

A mentor called Marshall Thurber recently taught me about the difference between experience and theory at a course I attended of his, called The Future of Business.

Check out the video below to learn more:


I know many people, including myself, who have been playing golf for years.

I would say that after 20 years of golf, I am an experienced golfer, but I haven’t really got any better and I am average at best.

So what if someone had taught me a new theory at the beginning of my golf career like a technique for putting or how to hit long irons … If I had learned these new theories, how much better would my golf game be now?

Practice makes ‘permanent’, not ‘perfect’. If you practice the wrong thing, all you end up with is experience of doing things badly!

What theories don’t you know, that if you did, could transform your life and business?

If you are in HR or recruitment, for example, why not find out who the best is in the industry and read up on them to see if you can learn a new theory that will transform the way you do things. Why not read about someone who has been there and done it and made the mistakes so that you don’t have to?

If I were to tell you that I had arranged a lunch for you with Sir Richard Branson, and at this lunch he could tell you where he went wrong and offer you the new theories that he has learned to make him the billionaire he is today, would you say this is valuable?

Well unfortunately I can’t get you the lunch but I can tell you that the information he would tell you is already in his books!

So go and look for new theories and ask yourself again, “what theories don’t you know, that if you did, could transform your life and business?”

Have you ever learned a new theory that has multiplied your potential? I’d love to see your comments below …

Comments 13

  1. Brilliant points Andrew… we do get hung up on experience all the time and and forget to focus on solid theory as the foundation to growth and success. Being willing to take a step back to then move forward also hit home. Thanks again.

  2. Andrew love the coffee analogy… its so true that just because someone has experience it doesn’t mean they know the best way to do something or are getting great results doing it the way they are.

    It also reminds me of a great quote “sometimes you have to slow down to speed up” which to me is bit like going backwards before you will go forwards at a greater rate of knots!

  3. Excellent video Andrew !! You’re golf analogy is the exact same analogy Thomas Sterner used in his book “The Practicing Mind” where he made the observation when he first started playing golf that most people were not very good even though they had been playing a long time. The reason ? They focused more on the goal of becoming a good golfer rather than the daily process to get there. As a skilled concert pianist Thomas applied the same principles of learning a musical instrument to learning golf, focusing on the daily drills on each part of his golf swings without worrying about how the end result of the swing looked like. By focusing on the process, the end result automatically takes care of itself.

    What I learnt from your video and from Thomas Sterner ; let the goal become an overall rudder to guide your daily actions but let the daily actions be what you focus on, not stressing out whether you achieve your goal or not because that’s not what matters. What matters is you become very good at what you choose to do. However miraculously, the goal is achieved as a matter of course. That was an epiphany for me, being only focused on goals over the past twenty years.

  4. Great info Andrew.

    I’ve had lunch with Sir Richard (found myself on a yacht with a dozen hosties, 5 of my mates and him but that’s not a story for here) and he is remarkably congruent and authentic.

    Having said that he’s very, very blunt too.
    The more successful you get the less time you have for anything other than authentic.

    Keep writing Andrew.
    You’re excellent at it!


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      Thanks David. Wow – that would have been amazing experiencing – sailing with Sir Richard Branson. Thanks for shearing this. have a great week, Andrew

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  5. In my experience of life, I have learnt to not knock anything until I try it first of all. Secondly, life is all about learning. Just to be willing to learn, learn and learn some more coz I don’t think there’s anyone who’s got everything figured out in all aspects of life, yet there are many a professionals in varying professions.
    Cheers. X

  6. Great reminder, Andrew! Thanks. The study of theory is two fold: to explain and to predict.
    In health communication, for example, the Protection Motivation Theory allows us to craft a message based on how easy it is to protect our self from a health risk and how motivated we are to protect our self without having the message be discounted.

    A theory in Persuasion called the Social Judgement Theory explains latitudes of acceptance and rejection and knowing the audience (or target client) has an anchor point. The closer to their existing anchor point, or attitude about something is where we begin the process of persuasion to move them closer to our idea.

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