We are encouraged to discount our personal experience every day. We’re inundated with information about how to build a business, turbo charge our careers, lose weight, and on and on. And every bit of that information comes wrapped in the “5 Steps to a Better Career/ Life/ Business/ Body” package. With the implied message of “Trust us, if you just follow these 5 magical steps, you’ll get the results you’ve dreamed of!” Regardless of your previous experience or personal expertise.
That hasn’t been my experience…
So you read or view one of those “5 Steps” deals and think, “Ummmmm, not really. That hasn’t been my experience.” But we’ve been conditioned to trust those experts. They know best. We have to follow every single step or we won’t get the result we want. Right?
I fall prey to this kind of thinking all the time. I don’t know about you, but I try their tips verbatim – all of them. Then I get stuck. For example, there’s the SEO (search engine optimization – it’s how you find me and other people online) course I took a while back. It kept talking about writing your blogpost keeping the keywords (the things I think you’ll be searching for) in the title, the headlines, the first line of the copy, and in the body of the post. It sounded forced and clunky to me. When I wrote that way it felt forced and it was ugly reading, too! But I did it anyway.
Here’s what I was really doing. I was ignoring the fact that I’m a voracious reader. Since I read everything, I know what good writing looks like. I’ve been writing professionally for various jobs for 20+ years. I know how to write content. I know how to add enough SEO to get found. And I still discount my own experience!!
Sounds crazy, right? So here’s a challenge for you: think about a time you read something about self-improvement, or somebody gave you some advice, or you watched a PBS special about the perfect way to stay young.
When you experienced this content, did you walk away thinking you had to do every single thing that was mentioned to get the end result? Even though parts of it didn’t make any sense at all given your own experience and expertise? When you thought about how to use that information in your own life, did you combine what you already knew with what you learned to produce the optimal result? Or, did you discount your personal experience and just blindly follow their method.
Here’s what I’ve discovered. When I discount my personal experience and go after the result those programs are promising without bringing my experience to bear, I get stuck. I stall out. Then I abandon the whole thing. Even the useful parts!
Take the awesome parts and run with it!
What if we work on bringing our personal experiences to this new learning? For example, I’m now calling on my own experience to filter the latest information about SEO that’s always in my Inbox. So, instead of going crazy with keywords, I write tighter posts. I work on figuring out exactly the right places to put those keywords based on the flow of the post. I use my 20+ years of experience instead of ignoring it.
So, I’m proposing that the next time your coach, or best friend, or professor, or YouTube, or PBS, or whomever or whatever tells you that if you just do it this way, you’ll have a better result, you take a minute. Pause. Think about the information you were offered. Filter it through your experience and expertise. Take the awesome parts and run with it. And leave the rest behind