Weekly Thought – June 22, 2021
Fred believed firmly in principle based thinking long before it was a “hot topic” for leadership books. His efforts to distill ideas down to the simplest form, bringing out the fundamentals were a hallmark of his speaking, writing, and consulting. He processed each experience deriving the value.
Identifying Principles, Appreciating Experience
It is critical to process and archive our experiences by principles which remain constant, not just techniques which vary. For example, young people like to worship God through contemporary praise music while I am still singing “The Old Rugged Cross” and “In the Garden.” The worship of God is the principle the way we do it is the technique.
During the Second World War the government tested a large group of enlistees, finding only seven percent could think in principles while ninety-seven thought in techniques. We found that true in industrial training – principles could only be taught with technique attached. Our daughter Brenda studies personality types. She talks about the difference between abstract and concrete thinking.
Experience is a distillation of all the things that have happened to us therefore it is very important we objectively file them without romanticizing or fantasizing (like old men repeating stories of their athletic prowess). Some people unfortunately become less than objective about their experiences, trying to repeat successes based on technique, not on principle. I was asked to advise in one of the national strikes. Finding that the executive in charge was trying to repeat a success he had with strikes in years past. The critical point was the fact that the situation was different as were the players. He failed to assess the principles so the “long of tooth” techniques did not match changing time and personnel.
I often speak of operating from the current reality it is another way of saying, “understand the principles and then choose appropriate, relevant techniques that will work.”
Experience is valuable in development because it gives us data for decision making. We learn what works and what doesn’t. One key component of making good use of experience is to let us recognize how we operate under stress. This information is critical.
It is an old saw, but well worth repeating. A young man asked an older, successful business person, “What is the basis of your success?” “Good judgment,” was the elder’s reply. “Where did the good judgment come from?” Quickly the answer came back, “Experience.” The younger man had one more question “Where did the experience come from?” “Bad judgment.”
Undoubtedly, a good deal of that process involved learning to think in terms of principles, not just techniques.
This week carefully consider: 1) What has helped me to learn to assess situations in term of principles, not just techniques? 2) Who models this distinction for me? 3) How careful am I to properly process my experiences, outlining what I have learned?
Words of Wisdom: “Our growth through perseverance brings experience which we can never lose. It is important that we store our experiences more in principles than in techniques.”
Wisdom from the Word: “I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.” (Philippians 4:12 NET Bible)