Albert Einstein said: ‘There is only one source of knowledge in the world. That is experience’.
Yes, every experience matters because each one comes as a package with a few lessons for the future. Experiences are experiments. Some results cheer us up. But some unexpected results could initially disappoint us. But in the long run, we would find them to be our points of caution when we are about to take crucial decisions in life.
I heard this anecdote. Someone asked a successful person: ‘What is the secret of your success?’ He answered: ‘It is only two words – Right Decisions’. Then the next question to him: ‘How did you take right decisions?’ The answer was a quick one word. ‘Experience’. Then the next and last question: ‘How do you get experience?’. The answer was to the point! ‘Wrong decisions!’
When I started working and was leading a team, I had thought that my decisions were the best. I prepared my proposals and projects and rushed to my seniors thinking that they were path breaking and revolutionary. I questioned the rationale of the existing system and the procedures and suggested their immediate replacements. But those seniors, who had a rich experience in the job, needed only a few minutes to shoot down some of my proposals stating that they won’t work! I felt disappointed and thought they were conservative and were against innovation. But, later in my career, I found that some of those advices by them were indeed right. It took me a few years of experience to understand the worth of an experienced person!
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But there is a real danger when ‘old’ experiences do not make way to ‘new’ experiences. The experienced persons should be open to experiment new ideas. That means, there should be opportunities for the newcomers to experiment their ideas by shouldering responsible positions. These can happen only when the experienced seniors either delegate sufficient authority to juniors or vacate their positions if their ideas are no longer relevant. None, how much senior, experienced or competent they are, should feel themselves indispensable in any organization.
N R Narayana Murthy, Co-founder of Infosys while retiring form the company wrote: ‘I definitely think I can leave in peace. I think the new leaders are definitely smarter than me’. Yes, it requires a lot of humility, courage and trust to say that. (However, later he had to come back when things were not moving well. I have narrated this here).
Experienced people may be the most suitable leaders in any organization. But they should be broadminded to accept the suggestions and inputs from those below and those who are freshers. In a letter issued by N R Narayana Murthy to the Infosys shareholders, he rightly observed that, ‘Many intelligent people have very high ego and low patience. If they cross the threshold, it takes courage to inform them that they have to leave’. But who will bell the cat?
Experience matters in every situation and in every organization
Every experience comes with a lesson for the future
Experienced persons should have the humility, courage and trust to accept the inputs from less experienced persons
In due course, the more experienced persons should make way for the new ones to experiment new ideas by giving them appropriate responsibility
Hyper intelligent seniors who are with high ego and low patience should leave the ground voluntarily
Views are personal. © Sibichen K Mathew
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