A Steward of Experiences

December / 2020
Author: Shane Walsh – US Army Officer, Talent Development

All of us, at some point in our lives, had experiences that shaped who we are, how we think or what we choose to do next. These are the kinds of experiences that you think back on throughout your life. They are the lenses through which you view what happens to you, and the litmus tests for what you should do next. 

Many times, you’ve paid a price for these experiences. You’ve made a big mistake, or you’ve seen someone else make a mistake. You’ve seen people you care about that have been hurt – or helped – by the decisions that you make or that others around them make. As I’ve often told my sons, the tuition for your experience is paid for by the mistakes you make. Experience is a powerful thing because it removes a concept, a suggestion, a belief, or an idea from the abstract to the concrete. In doing so, it affects your thinking – and your life – in a very real way. 

Here’s the thing. Everyone has these experiences, but most of us keep them to ourselves – not out of selfishness or even embarrassment, but simply because the opportunities to share them don’t present themselves. I would submit to you that by keeping these experiences to ourselves, we are missing an enormous opportunity to be impactful in the lives of those we meet. If these experiences had the ability to help you, isn’t it possible they might be able to help someone else? 

I believe – strongly believe – that we are a steward of our experiences. Our experiences, while often personal, shouldn’t only belong to us. Sharing what you know with those you know and care about, or with those you encounter that could use the benefit of that wisdom, is an opportunity to be impactful in the lives of others. The more people your life affects, the more significant your life is.  

Put another way, the wisdom borne of your experiences is minimal in its significance if you’re the only one benefitting. All of us have a head full of knowledge and wisdom that is the product of the many experiences we’ve had. I invite you to be deliberate in sharing what you’ve learned with others that can be aided by that wisdom. Look for opportunities to visit with peers, subordinates, friends or new acquaintances. Approach every interaction with a desire to be helpful, and you will take a powerful step toward leading a life of significance.