The Sensational Power of Real-World Experience

Knowledge is essential in the pursuit of success and personal growth. However, knowledge alone is only helpful with the accompanying power of real-world experience.

When I started farming with my father, my task during harvest became the truck driver. In my early years, we used smaller grain augers with gas motors. Usually, things worked well, but at least once per year, one of these gas motors would refuse to start for me. My Dad had taught me to troubleshoot gas motors, so I would go through all the tips and tricks he showed me, but to no avail. The engine would not start, and I would have to get Dad off the combine to help start it.

Each time, my Dad began by repeating the same steps I had previously done. I would tell him emphatically that I had done these things. But to my eternal frustration (and embarrassment), Dad would start the motor immediately.

To my eyes, my Dad had done nothing different, yet he could always start the motor immediately. Looking back, however, there was a big difference between what I did and what my Dad did. Unlike me, Dad had taken the time to learn about internal combustion engines. But most importantly, Dad had 39 more years of real-world experience. I knew how the motor worked, but not intrinsically. And I had very little real-world experience.

When the motor gave me issues, I usually knew what was wrong. Sometimes, it flooded. Sometimes, I needed to clean the air filter or blow out the fuel filter. And for each situation, I knew what steps I had to take to fix the problem. My Dad, however, understood motors. He knew how to fix a problem and understood what each step in the troubleshooting sequence was doing internally. My Dad had fixed motors hundreds of times, and this real-world experience gave him a huge advantage in solving the issues.

Even though it looked like my Dad was doing the same thing as me, Dad had countless hours of real-time experience doing these same tasks repeatedly. Dad understood what each step was supposed to do, and both listened and watched for signs of which I was unaware. So, whereas I followed a technique, Dad worked according to what he felt the engine needed. And so he was always able to start the fussy engine immediately.

As a society, we often highlight knowledge, training or where a person works. But we should not undervalue real-world experience. Real-world experience is the final component of proficiency. One can have all the training in the world, work long hours, or practice at a distinguished company. But nothing substitutes for real-world experience. Over time, the world throws variables that test our knowledge and training. The more you encounter various variables, the better you become at dealing with and anticipating them. And the more you take an interest and try to understand what the variables throw at you, the better you will handle future variables.

Here is my favourite story that illustrates this point:

A Parable of Real-World Experience

A giant ship’s engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one ‘professional’ after another, but none could figure out how to fix the broken engine.

Then, they brought in a man who had been fixing ships since he was young. He carried a large bag of tools and immediately went to work when he arrived. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the ship’s owners were there watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away, and the engine was fixed!!!

A week later, the owners received an invoice from the old man for $10,000.

“What?” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”.

So they wrote to the man, “Please send us an itemised invoice.”

The man sent an invoice that read:

Tapping with a hammer………………….. $2.00
Knowing where to tap…………………….. $9,998.00

Effort is necessary, but experience and knowing where to direct that effort makes all the difference.

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” ~ Mark Twain

Gaining Real-Life Experience in Thai Massage

Three years ago, when I returned from Thailand as a Registered Instructor, I worked out a roadmap for improving my skills over the years. I wanted to continually challenge myself to enhance and deepen my knowledge of Thai massage, so I created a practitioner roadmap with eight levels of Thai massage proficiency.

Each class has explicit criteria, including association membership, hours of hands-on training, practice, years of real-world experience, and the number of certifications in Thai massage modalities. I then correlated my practitioner rates with these eight levels of Thai massage proficiency.

How Much Training Do Thai Massage Practitioners Require?

Do Thai massage practitioners need to continue learning new skills? Is hands-on training better than online training? Which is more critical for Thai massage, training or experience?

Thai massage can help alleviate neck pain
Scroll to Top