18Jul

Experience is “the” Truth

I’m not going to say that monks don’t know what they are talking about when they tell us to meditate for relaxation, but I am going to say that people will only ever know the extent of their experience.  There are a few wise “old souls” but that’s not who I am speaking about.

I read an article the other day written by an entrepreneur about managing employees.  He was young and he was someone who has never been a manager in any other place than his own.  He has decided that he is a successful manager because many of his staff have stuck around and because his company is financially successful.  I have news for him, his management style is only one way and that is his way.  He doesn’t know if his staff is really loyal to him, and his article did not address his relationship with his staff.  His article was a reiteration of his success with some trendy words thrown in.  His measurement metrics are flawed, because they only cover his definition of success.  This is okay, it is very human for our discussions to be limited to our own experiences.  However, you cannot say you are a good manager until you have been more challenged than what this particular entrepreneur is describing. 

Middle management is one of the most difficult jobs there are and unless you have experienced it, it is hard to describe.  It’s kind of like being butter between two hot pancakes, you melt and then you are absorbed into obscurity.  Being a business owner is nothing like this.  A business owner will not normally have his staff going around his authority and challenging his authority to his supervisors (there are none). A middle manager will panic about losing a job and facing possible homelessness.  This is not the typical worry of a business owner.

Back to the monks and other such hippies that want us to meditate.  A single male who does not commit to a relationship (a monk), cannot imagine what the working mother in America goes through just to get through a day.  Explaining to her and chastising her because she won’t meditate is ridiculous.  There is nothing that a monk can tell this working American mother about coping in America.

Take that a step further and look at the difference between the person who works casually and the person who pursues a high powered career.  My two friends bickered constantly about the differences in how they treated their jobs.  My friend with the career didn’t want to take a day off from work and was constantly driven by her success.  My friend who did not have so much at stake, thought that she was “crazy” to take work so seriously.  She wanted to gossip over coffee on the odd morning and my career friend just would not.  The friendship ended because one began belittling the other for those differences.

The point is this, we are all limited by our very own experiences and those experiences are no better and no worse than someone else’s.  I think we make a mistake when we believe that our own experience should apply to everyone and we start thinking that our own way is the best way. 

Without the ability to understand the challenges that a day brings to an American working mother, how can we prescribe meditation to her?  How can we be so thoughtless as to prescribe something that circumstance can never deliver?

We have to find the ability to go beyond our own experience by listening and connecting with each other.  In the absence of the real experience, the only thing we have is the connection with each other.  It is through this connection with each other that we can truly be the expert and have something to offer.

 

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