Experiences help us develop our emotional intelligence and functional skills. We all enjoy numerous micro-experiences every day and each one of these, if we get enough sleep to process the input, can contribute to our emotional intelligence and functional skills. We can think of these experiences as learning experiences gained from exposure to, or participation in, or observations of, events, actions and/or relationships. Just as with any experience, we learn different things based on previous experiences, our personality, and our cognitive and physical abilities.
From our inception, we have been receiving stimuli and these, along with our DNA, formed our personality. Once our personality has formed, we learn how to deal with situations by using our experiences to develop, whether consciously or unconsciously, our emotional intelligence. Our functional skills started being developed as children as we learned to walk, talk, read, write, etc., and formal and informal experiences developed these as we worked our ways through the education system to the workplace.
With our conscious effort, our learning continues, to a greater or lesser degree, as we age. Our personalities do dictate, to a certain extent, how able to are to learn with personality traits such as openness and curiosity. Our experiences continually feed our understanding of the world, our emotional intelligence, and functional skills. In addition to cognitive skills, moto-mechanical skills such as agility, coordination, endurance, flexibility, speed, and strength are also developed with experiences.
Although we continue to learn from experiences, our goals help direct us to the experiences that will help improve the cognitive and functional skills that we need to meet our goals. If you decide to run a marathon, become a subject matter expert or grow to be a great leader, these goals will naturally influence the experiences that will intrigue you. In the workplace, your organization might provide learning opportunities which, hopefully, are mutually agreed and, will lead you towards your goals.
Some measures of experience are easy to count but not always valuable. As William Bruce Cameron stated in 1963 book “…not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
Here is a short list of experiences that can be counted; however, the value will be in the eye of the beholder - hours of formal training, time in self-development, age (for a measure of potential life experiences), roles, time in each role, location of role, activity in each role, time in locations, time in virtual experiences, illness, injury, number of projects, types of projects, present during conflict and involvement in conflict.
One challenge for counting or measuring experiences is comparing experiences. What could be the weight of experiences to witness a negotiation, to be a negotiator, to coach the negotiator, or be responsible for the outcome of a negotiation. All of these would be valuable experiences to inform our emotional intelligence and functional skills but to what degree.