Colin Powell once said to a group of graduating 2nd lieutenants, “Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment.”
Making the point, of course, to remind these young officers not to be too hard on themselves when they make a mistake. Just take a lesson from the mistakes you are going to make.
When any of us begins a new activity, from our first bike ride to getting through our first driving lesson, our judgment is flawed because we truly don’t know what to expect. Riding a tricycle until the age of 12, I was sure I would have no problem exchanging three wheels for two. After all, my younger brother had been riding his bicycle since he was five years old and made it look quite simple. The trick, I soon discovered, was balance.
As I sat astride the little green bike looking down the street, I was most confident that this would be a piece of cake. Of course, it was a very small bike, and I was a very tall kid. And while I felt like Evel Knievel lining up for a long ramp jump, I looked more like a monkey riding a football. So, with my older brother standing behind with his hand on the back of the banana seat, I pushed down on the higher of the two pedals and instantly fell to that side of the bike, bumping knees and elbows on the way down and winding up closer to the front tire than the seat when I landed.
Knowing that I had seven layers of skin altogether, I got back on the bike hoping the other six layers were a little tougher. Once again I lined up the little bike; this time making sure the pedal on the opposite side was now the top one. I pushed off with all my might and hit the ground once more in the other direction. Turns out the next layer of skin was more sensitive then the first layer. By the end of the day I would find out that each progressive layer was even more sensitive. Yes, I had effectively removed all seven layers of skin by the end of that lesson, and figured out that it didn’t really matter which pedal I pushed off on.
Sir Isaac Newton being hit on the head with an apple had nothing on me and that bike concerning the reality of gravity.
Before long though, I was riding that thing all over the neighborhood. I could jump small ramps, do wheelies, power slide in the gravel, do burnouts and many other feats that proved my mastery of this two-wheeled wonder. By making good judgment calls, I was mostly able to avoid serious injury, no matter what trick I was trying to impress my pals with.
And so it goes with the inexperienced job hunter. You fall down over and over because you haven’t developed the judgment required to keep you rolling forward. The resume you wrote at the kitchen table, from memory, and in crayon, will have you crashing and burning before you get to the end of your driveway.
So after a few weeks, you add a few more details, write in black ink this time and try again. CRASH!!! Now you write it on your word processor juicing up the details somewhat. BOOM!!! No luck. Soon enough you realize that only a professional can help your career at this point. See, you have finally decided to use good judgment and the negative experience with bad judgment is a lesson you won’t soon forget.
And just remember, while you can’t keep a good man down, you can keep on tripping him every time he stands up.
by Rob Poindexter