In experiential learning, all of your efforts at the start are usually directed at getting somewhere, for where you start from is Inexperience City, a place in which nobody wants to stay for long. But where exactly is this ‘somewhere’? As importantly, is your ‘somewhere’ a shared ‘somewhere’?
Because of the many ambiguities in experiential learning and behavioural change, it is easy to believe that you have arrived at ‘somewhere’ soon after commencing your journey. The perceived value of initial practice far outweighs its actual value; still, this practice makes you ‘perfect’. It’s a saying that we all grow up with – practice makes perfect. Don’t let this saying fool you as ‘perfect’ is a dangerous illusion. You’ll never be perfect.
Practice will make you better but I prefer to think of practice as making you more robust. Robust has many synonyms – strong, sturdy, hale and hearty, tough – above all, in good shape! You become resilient and resourceful; practice has a protective dimension that lessens the chances that you fall, you buckle, you give up or give in. Practice makes you robust but this does not mean you’ve arrived at your ‘somewhere’.
Now, you must engage in practice of robust, a form of overlearning that strengthens and deepens your robustness. Without this, time, circumstances and distractions will dilute your robustness. You can’t think that, having arrived ‘somewhere’, you can now stand still. Standing still actually means you are going backwards.
You are strengthened, made more robust, by the process and not the destination. Your ‘somewhere’ is always over there, never where you are. You can never abandon the process for the aim is to make the process as integral as breathing. Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Johan Aineland, one member of I’m From Barcelona, sang about the best days are yet to come, a beautiful, uplifting song of hope:
Your ‘somewhere’ doesn’t comprise your best days; your ‘somewhere’ is a lifelong series of progressively better days. That is the aim of all experiential learning and behavioural change efforts.