The value of experience

After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser.
Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790

We all know that experience is very valuable. But often, we mistake knowledge for experience. They are not the same. There are plenty of people dispensing advice based on knowledge they’ve acquired from others, but that advice is not founded on real world experience.

Let me tell you a little story that will illustrate the point.

One day, a lion decided he had a taste for rabbit, and he knew it would be much more productive if he got other hunters to join him. So he set out to find a couple of companions. He eventually found a fox and a hyena to join in the hunt.

Well, at the end of the day, they had done quite well: they had accumulated a nice pile of rabbits. The lion asked the hyena to divide the rabbits so that each could take their share.

The hyena worked very diligently dividing the rabbits into three equal piles. When he was finished, he stepped back and waited for the lion and the fox to approve of his work.

The lion walked over to the hyena and asked if he had finished. The hyena, feeling rather proud of his work, agreed that he was finished. With lightning speed, the lion slashed the hyena with his sharp claws, pounced on him and killed him. The lion proceeded to eat part of the hyena and then threw his remains on the pile of rabbits.

The lion then turned to the fox and ask him to divide the rabbits so that each might take their share. The fox went to work, piling all the rabbits in one big pile. When he was done, the fox took one scrawny rabbit from the pile and went off to eat it.

The lion walked over to the fox and said, “You really did a great job dividing up the rabbits. I just have one question. Where did you learn to count so well?”

The fox looked up from his scrawny meal and replied, “From the hyena.”

When you are counting, you must know what counts.

Some folks know the theory of things. Others know the real world; they’ve been there and suffered the bumps and bruises. In addition to knowledge, you need the scars that come from real world experience. When you seek advice, look for someone with experience. It might just keep the lion at bay.

By three methods we may learn wisdom:
First, by reflection, which is noblest,
Second, by imitation, which is easiest;
And third by experience, which is bitterest.

551 – 479 BC

Copyright © 2020 John Chancellor

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