The Value of Experience over Skill

(This however does not imply that Skill is not required. It has its own indispensable benefits which I shall cover some other day.) I work in a very interesting environment where I meet people – young and old, and we share ideas – skilled and staled! Business cultures are prone to value people in the context of their age. If you're a low number, you have a lot of potential. If you're a high number, not so much.Over the years, as I grey, I have started respecting more things whether young or old… skilled or staled because I have been inundated to realize, partially through wisdom (so I think!) and partially through my experiments with life (most of which come with a lesson), that everything has its own importance. Since I am still very young, I shall not go gaga about the virtues of youth and the potential in the young breed. I shall not deny the credit for a single day of the hard-fought years that “youth” so laboriously pursues… nor shall I mis-credit anyone’s “experience” that is so timely earned. Today I write in defence of “Experience” factor which is as much essential as are the virtues of "Skills" aka "Talent". I shall call folks with Experience “Grezzies” (a humble substitute for “Grey-Haired”) and guys with Skills “Skiludes” (a humble substitute for “Skill Dudes”)

  • Grezzies can open their contacts list and call someone they met 25 years ago and restart a relationship and finish a job in no time. Skiludes in high probability cannot do that because that many years back they did not exist or were littering the nappies.
  • Grezzies have built relationship of mammoth proportions. Typically if one makes 5 close contacts every year and 100 acquaintances, then in 30 years or work-ex, one has 150 people in network and about 3000 reliable people in the contact list. Skiludes will probably still be trying to create an impression. The good ones will still be dealing with exes and present girl-friends… still nowhere close to any meaningful relationship.
  • Grezzies know that people die and some projects fail. They accept gracefully that people, relationships and projects are not permanent. For Skiludes, the reality of impermanence is not yet internalized. Skiludes think that iPod will last forever and they can just start any day without getting a back-ache.
  • Grezzies can size up a potential opportunity or person and say, "No, I am not going to work on this project with them." Grezzies know that it’s ok to let pass an opportunity if it will be more pain than pleasure. Skiludes tend to see upside and none of the down and believe that they can handle all circumstances irrespective of whether the circumstance will be in their control or not.
  • Grezzies have talked to so many people, formally and informally, that in 5 minutes they can make out whether the one in front has the gift of the gag or the brain of Einstein. Skiludes get overtly impressed with external personalities so much so that they miss the intention and intellect of the one in front.
  • Grezzies know that when one is complaining, is it because there is a genuine issue or the complaining person has some other problems (Poor communication/PR skills, anger-issues, inferiority complex, etc.). Skiludes know for sure that everyone not aligned to their views is a nut-case.
  • Grezzies have a capacity to take bullshit and filter out the bull and the shit. Skiludes do not have much capacity and no sieve to filter bullshit for relevance.
  • Grezzies know that if they have not understood something it could be because they do not have expertise in that zone or the person communicating has not communicated well. Grezzies know that with better communication they can understand anything. Skiludes know for sure that they know it all and the person in front knows very little if not nothing.
  • Grezzies know that projects get delayed and there are cost overruns. Skiludes are continually shocked and unprepared when projects delay arises out of non technical challenges.
  • Grezzies know that being nice to people and being a good leader are two different things. Skiludes may be nice to everyone but not necessarily be ready for leadership that is respected y all.
  • Grezzies know the big picture and how things work – language of contracts, sexual harassment policies, up-to-date insurance, employment management, non-competition clause, trademark law, regulatory compliance, etc. Skiludes do not have time for time-wasting work until life encourages or forces them to have some.
  • Grezzies know that people can surprise you, in good ways and bad, and that you don't really know someone closely unless you have shared something that exposes their core self. Skiludes believe that they know people after ten weeks or in 10 minutes.
  • Grezzies know that to withhold trust is not a sign of cynicism but of maturity and they can put this forward in a nice way. Skiludes let people they do not know sneak up behind them all the time and have self back-stabbed a few times. Worse… they close themselves completely and miss out on some genuine nice unknown people.
  • Grezzies understand that, if you violate your principles, humiliate people, play with emotions, it will always come back to haunt you and to hurt you. Skiludes think achievement and targets are kings, and everything else is transient.
  • Grezzies know because thay have lived through it. Skiludes anticipate and hope for the best.

I hope that after reading above points some of you would relate to Grezzies and others to Skiludes… and then there will be a clan with varying shades of both. But if you want a culture, whether at work or at home, that functions with minimal drama and wasted effort, that does not get shocked easily, and that can actually nurture and respect virtues of youth nearby, then respect the value of wisdom and the people who have collected wisdom years. If you are a hardliner, then wait until life gets back to you (if you are a 100% hardline Skilude). If life did not teach you much, then you have wasted more years than you actually know (if you are 100% hardline Grezzy).

3 Replies to “The Value of Experience over Skill”

  1. Very intersting and thought provoking. I find myself fitting in both the slots Grezzy and Skildud… a rare cominations right?
    Your tips and toes are always highly readable, this one is even better.

  2. This is the best one I liked – “Grezzies have a capacity to take bullshit and filter out the bull and the shit”. In the world full of “Bullshit” that comes in from all directions, I feel it is this skill that keeps the Grezzies going.

  3. Enjoyed reading this, and came to the sad conclusion that I am almost 95% a Skilude..! May be some good experience at my present company will make me a Grezzy..!

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