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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)

TITLE: I Don't Know What I'm Doing
By Doug Apple


I don’t know what I’m doing!

I am the kind of person that doesn’t just dive into things. Before I start, I want to do research. I want to learn all I can. I love the internet because now you can research anything, anytime. I do this so I can make sure I do it right!

We just bought a home here in Tallahassee, and, surpise, it needs work. For example, I just put in a new kitchen sink. Of course it’s never just a sink. It's also faucets and water pipes and drain pipes and...you know, I don’t really have a passion for any of it.

But anyway, I bought this new strainer that connects the sink to the drain pipe. I did everything they said. I did everything I found on the fix-it-yourself website.

It all seemed simple enough. But I’d never done it before. I had no experience. I needed someone who had done this a few times to help me.

My daughter and I were talking last night about a certain family we know. They are all in the construction business - this generation, the generation before that, as far back as I can remember. The experience of one generation is passed on to the next. They are successful, and it’s no wonder. One generation builds upon the experience of the previous.

I had a conversation recently with someone about education. They asked me what I considered the best form of education. I said I thought the old fashioned apprentice system was the best. There is really no substitute for an older person with experience taking a younger person under their wing and teaching them, day in and day out.

I had an old boss that was fond of saying, “Experience is the teacher of fools.” What he meant was, “Don’t learn something by your own mistakes, if you can learn from someone else’s experience.”

Like I said, I am a researcher. I am a reader. I am also a question-asker. I have an inquisitive mind, and I don’t mind going to people for information.

But I have found that you can pack all the knowledge you want into your brain, and it still doesn’t take the place of experience. There are only two ways to have the advantages of experience. Either learn from your own experiences - your own school of hard knocks - or you can learn by spending time with someone else that has more experience. That is the better way.

So where do you want to go in the next few months and years of your life? Find someone who has already been there, then ask them to “apprentice” you for a while. There is simply no replacement for experience.

Take my sink (please...) An experienced sink-putter-inner would have noticed immediately what I didn’t - that the strainer I bought was faulty. All of my research didn’t prepare me for that. And just think, I could have avoided that “look” from my wife, if I would have only had the help of someone with experience.

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Member Comments
Member Date
L.M. Lee11/04/06
best advice...learn from others so we don't have to repeat!

I always joke that I won't live long enough to make all the mistakes I need to learn from! ha!