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  • Writer's pictureJames Cullen

Experience is Overrated - But Humankind's Ability Isn't

Humankind is extremely clever. As a species, we have achieved an incredible amount, from discovering fire back in the day, to creating small computers we carry in our pockets. But can you imagine if we decided that the first cavemen to discover fire, or to build the wheel, weren't experienced enough and therefore couldn't do it.

"I'm sorry, sir, you have never built anything that goes through revolutions before, you can't work on this wheel."

Experience, in my opinion, is a largely specious notion. Look at The Apprentice. Every week the candidates are thrust into another situation that few of them have any passing knowledge of. But how many times do they manage to manufacture sweets, sausages, cakes, create events, design exercise equipment, brand gins?

There are few jobs that actually require experience. What experience did Neil Armstrong have of space travel before his illustrious small step on the Moon? Pretty sure he hadn't gone to Jupiter for six months, done work experience on Venus, and had a summer job when he was 16 on Mercury. A lot of the jobs I see require experience. Well clocking in and out at a place of work counts as experience, but it doesn't say anything for personality, creativity, morale, or any of the intangible qualities that are necessary for success in most fields. A lot of jobs I see require experience doing the same thing. If I worked somewhere for six months and left, I wouldn't move sideways, I'd move up.

I understand that the employer wants someone experienced, but they may get 4/10 John Doe who has the relevant experience, while passing on 9/10 Jane Doe who has the capability to change the world. Humans are smart and adaptable, and there are few jobs that you are unable to learn on your feet and gain experience in less than a week.

I'll leave you with this fact. Walt Disney hired Roy Disney, who worked at the company for many years. The main reason old Walter hired Roy? Not because of his years and years of business experience, but because he was family. And I'm fairly sure that particular company is doing pretty well.

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