Experience is a Dear School, Fools Learn in No Other

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” — Paulo Coelho

In a recent video, Chicago Booth’s Linda Ginzel shows how leaders can use data and experimenting to make the lessons of experience less expensive.

Linda says there’s an important concept in negotiations called the Pareto Frontier, which is the point where maximum value from a deal is had. She says, for example, if you haven’t hit the frontier in a negotiation, you leave money on the table. With this concept in mind she’s created what she calls the Ginzel Frontier. It is your ability to extract lessons from everyday experience.

If you don’t have the ability to extract lessons from those experiences, you leave money on the table, so to speak, because experiences are literally expensive. Linda says Benjamin Franklin is often misquoted as saying “Experience is the best teacher.” However, he actually said experience is a dear teacher. A dear teacher is expensive.

Why is experience expensive? Linda says it’s because we don’t learn from it. Or, maybe we learned the wrong things from it. What Linda tries to do is help people be more systematic in collecting data from their experiences and experiment.

She advises practicing across time by experimenting with your behavior, collecting data and feedback; and then reflecting on the data. She points out to the extent you don’t collect data, experiment, practice and reflect on your understanding of your experiences, then you are leaving money on the table, and your experiences are literally expensive. You can view her full comments here.