Learning Through Experience, Teaching Through Engagement

Mark Twain said, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” Learning by experience is a powerful force. It’s how we acquire first-hand knowledge. It’s personal. It’s valuable. With Twain‘s cat example in particular, it’s also quite memorable. Turning to our own businesses, we can ask what we are doing to curate positive learning experiences for our clients, prospective clients, and our coworkers.

There is a difference between learning from a book and learning from experience. There’s also a difference between learning from a good experience and learning from a bad one. Whether we’re teaching people about how our businesses can add value or we’re setting goals with our team, we should get off of the figurative page and into the real world.

A car dealer may start with a brochure, but the goal is to get you behind the wheel for a test drive. Experience is about engagement. The more senses we are activating the better. New cars don’t all smell that way by accident. The more tangible the experience, the clearer we can differentiate it in our minds. Even if we don’t have specific words for what happened, we’ve learned something we could learn “in no other way.”

Our approach to teach a client how to interact with our products and services will help define the value in their mind. We should also how specifically are we engaging people? More importantly, how are we engaging with them? What is our “driving” experience?

The same applies to colleagues and coworkers. What is it like to get things done and create value for clients together? The goal on paper is different from the actual work that achieves the goal. What’s the experience of “driving” at work? Is it a luxury car or are we repeatedly carrying cats by their tails?

Positive learning experiences give us the confidence to come back. If it’s our business, it’s what keeps clients coming through the doors and coworkers showing up. If we want to drive the right experience, it starts by consciously understanding how people learn when they engage with us.

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