Experiential learning is discussed widely and is often seen as one of the most engaging approaches.   Yet, landing the key messages and ensuring individuals walk away with the required development can be challenging.  So, maybe there should be less focus on specific outcomes.  Instead, we could consider that individuals will take the learning they need from the experience.  This in itself will provide insight to what the individual needs and what they value.  In turn, we gain further opportunity to support them on their personal development journey.

Now, what if we take this a step further?  Can we see every experience as a learning opportunity?

I believe this is absolutely possible.

We’ve recently been having some work done on our home.  A little remodelling and a fair bit of decorating.  In the beginning I didn’t quite realise there was something to be learnt from this.  Yet, I got to thinking about the experience itself and realised I had learnt a fair amount.

Considering the Options

Firstly, I now recognise the true importance of taking a little time to consider the options before making a decision.  It’s not even about having the right option in the mix.  For me this is the time to reflect on the decision being sensible at that time or needing to be put off until a later date or even handed over to someone else.

This reflects how we chose colours for our walls.  I selected several options while my parents were on holiday.  I created swatches for the walls and took time to reflect on these, seeing them at different times of the day.  Yet, through this process, I recognised that this wasn’t my decision to make.  So, I didn’t.  I shared my selection with my parents and they chose.

Bigger Picture

Secondly, it can be easy to see parts of a project without seeing the bigger picture.  Sometimes we want to take action and make progress.  Before we know it we’ve gotten carried away before considering the impact.  I am now drawn to thinking things through more thoroughly before acting.

When we started this home project, my dad was only talking about changing the skirting and door architraves to a simple style in white.  Yet to match the kitchen, we would be lowering the skirting, which would impact the walls and they would then need decorating.  Also, if we only did the door architraves and left the doors in a dark stain, this would look odd.  So, we had to change them.  In addition, we have stained wood windowsills and banisters, so these would need to be painted.  Oh, and we then figured if we were decorating the walls, now would be a good time to change the entry to the downstairs bathroom.  We could have just changed the skirting and door architraves and looked at updating other elements later on.  However, taking time to consider the impact of what we wanted, is going to lead to a far better outcome.


Finally, I’ve learnt the value of keeping communication lines open.  There can be many players in any project and each with their own role to play.  However, these roles sometimes overlap, and each person has their own perspective of how that overlap needs to be delivered.  So, sharing progress, ideas, and ways of working becomes incredibly important in delivering a successful project.

In this example we have several players including me, my parents, the company we engaged to complete the work, and the various trades people.  We have a simple approach in managing the payments for work that we all adhere to.  Ongoing decisions about work being delivered i.e. layout of tiles come to me or my parents.  Although some decisions we make on our own, often we’ll discuss and agree them together.  Any additional work can be agreed with the tradesperson, who will share the information with the company so all parties are aware.  We have this down to a bit of an art form.

Being able to learn from our experiences takes commitment and a consistent approach to reflection.  Also, it’s about remembering our learning is transferable to different situations and environments.  What we learn in our personal lives can be transferred to work.  What we learn from our friendships can be transferred to our families.  Being open to this way of learning can lead to a greater level of personal development at a faster rate than learning each lesson in isolation.