A while back we started talking about the value of experience and how Dudebro Nation’s lack of experience is a big part of the reason they fell for Obama’s “experience is overrated” schtick.
There are two basic kinds of experience:
pleasant and unpleasant work experience and life experience.
Work experience is self-explanatory – it’s what you learn on the job. That is the kind of learning that often runs up against the law of diminishing returns. It is not unusual to discover that an employee with ten years experience actually has one year’s experience repeated ten times.
Life experience is a much broader category of learning that doesn’t end until you do. Life experience doesn’t make you smarter and it won’t necessarily make you wiser either.
Book learning is important, but it’s not the same thing as experience. You need both. When I was in the Army every summer we would get a new crop of second lieutenants. These guys came straight from West Point or ROTC with a bunch of book learning and no experience.
They were eager to make a good impression – too eager. They always got handed the crap jobs like Mess Hall Officer and they would try to improve stuff by changing procedures. Of course whatever they were trying to improve was what the last guy set up.
This may surprise you but I’ve had people telling me I was smart all my life. (Sometimes they added the word “ass”) But being smart is kinda like being a naturally fast runner. It’s a talent you’re born with, but it doesn’t do much for you if you don’t use it.
Here are a few things my life experience has taught me about being smart:
Being smart doesn’t always make life easier, especially when the dumb kid is a lot bigger and meaner than you are.
No matter how much smarter you are than other people, they don’t appreciate you telling them what to do. This is especially true if you do so in a condescending or patronizing manner.
No matter how smart you are, you don’t know everything.
Being smart is not a guarantee of or a substitute for a likeable personality.
If you want to get laid a likeable personality is mandatory. It’s way more important than money, looks or brains.
Being smart will not magically make you rich. But hard work will usually keep you in groceries.
It’s better to be lucky than smart.
Smart kids are really aggravating. (I have three of them)
Last but not least: Smart people still do dumb things.
One thing life experience has taught me is that things aren’t as simple and easy as I used to think when I was young. As I began to realize that everything in life is complex and intertwined with other things, I also realized that every solution creates new problems and some problems don’t have solutions.
Experience has taught me that when the shit is about to hit the fan, move away from the fan.
I have learned that if you stay in a bad job or bad relationship long enough, it will get worse.
I have learned that children are not malleable pieces of clay. They are human beings and are born with their own unique personalities. I learned that children don’t read those books on how to raise perfect children. I also learned that the so-called experts who write those books never met my kids.
Experience has taught me that if you don’t follow the crowds you’ll avoid lines and traffic jams and parking is easier to find.
I have learned that folk wisdom (like “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “If it sounds too good to be true it probably is”) doesn’t always work, but it makes really good default policy.
Getting back to the original topic (Dudebro Nation falling for Obama’s shtick) I think one of the reasons many of us didn’t fall for it was we knew it wouldn’t be that easy to change the world. It’s not that we didn’t share the ideals, we’ve just lived long enough to learn the difference between shit and Shinola.
So, what has life experience taught you?