You know that old Chinese Proverb…
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Giving is good. Teaching is also good. But neither of those are really the best way to feed a man for a lifetime.
Think about what it means to “teach” a man to fish. If the man were taught in a traditional classroom in the Western world, what would his day look like?
For starters, he would be required to read about fishing. Lots of reading. He would review many diagrams on fishing and listen to his teacher talk about fishing. He would be put into a group to discuss fishing, and also prepare a project and deliver a presentation on fishing. He would memorize all he could possibly cram into his brain about fishing, because he would be required to pass an exam on fishing. If he got a 90% or above, the teacher would tell him, “You’re very knowledgeable in fishing! You’ll can now go feed yourself for a lifetime!”
Essentially, that’s what we’re doing to our children. We fill them up with knowledge, send them out into the world, and expect them to know what the heck they are doing. Since that is what we are used to, we often carry the same model with us throughout adulthood. But what if there were a better way to learn?
Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand. – Confucius
We go back to our soon-to-be fisherman. What if we were to actually take the man out onto a boat, give him a fishing pole, and involve him in the act of fishing? Through experiencing the process of fishing, he will learn to fish. To the credit of the ancient Chinese, I’m pretty sure this is what they meant. I’m also pretty sure this is not the way most modern schools “teach.”
Now, as all cute stories, this one is a bit overly simplistic.
In reality, books, teachers, videos, and discussions are all great tools for learning…just not by themselves. Combine that passive knowledge with active experience and you have a recipe for real learning to take place. Add some serious reflection and internalization and now you’re on the fast track to true wisdom!
Most people view experience as something we gain slowly over time, or as something that happens to us. But why wait for experience to come to us? We can create it!
By actively seeking out experiences, we can help bridge the gap between simply collecting knowledge and actually gaining wisdom.
I spend a good amount of time envisioning the future, as well as the experiences needed to get me there. There are some experiences I want to have just for the pure fun of it, but most of my experiences are centered around what matters most in my life. They are experiences that help me learn more about myself, develop my character, or improve my skills. They are experiences that allow me to connect with others on a deeper level. They are experiences that expand my views and lead me to create positive changes in the world.
But none of this can happen without being prepared.
As you may already know, there is a tremendous amount of value in writing down your goals and dreams. Writing things down can help make ideas more real and concrete. For me, I will suddenly be able to visualize myself in the midst of the experience, and I become super motivated to get make it happen! Being prepared and writing down my experiences is what motivates me, inspires me, and keeps me focused!
That’s why I’ve created an Experience List!
It’s a way for me to keep track of the experiences that have significantly impacted my life so far, what experiences I have coming up in the near future, as well as experiences I would like to have someday. It’s an awesome way to reflect on all that I’ve done and keep me focused on gaining new experiences.
Check out my newly published Experience List in the menu bar at the top of the page, or just click here.
I highly encourage you to start an experience list of your own, and do it in a way that jives with you. By that I mean it could be a simple list written down in a notebook, typed in an excel spreadsheet, or turned into an awesome “Experience Board” with notes and pictures to keep you motivated.
The whole point of the list is to inspire you towards all the incredible experiences you would like to have in order to truly experience life fully!
Fill it with fun and exciting experiences, learning experiences, as well as experiences that you think will be deeply meaningful for you. Perhaps most importantly, fill it with experiences that will encourage you to face your fears and challenge you to grow.
Share some of your previous, planned, or potential experiences in the comments! Even better, send me some pictures of you having amazing experiences, and I’ll post them on the ELF facebook page!!
Go on, get out there, and involve yourself in the act of fishing!
Be wise. Live life!
Photo credit: Lucas Jans