The value of experience is not just learning how to do things. It is also learning what not to do – what does not work. That’s why leaders of countries, companies and charities are chosen for their all-around experience, not just their successes. They know they can’t know or do everything. So their ability to surround themselves with the best people is also vital. They also have to make critical decisions, and they can make them best if “they’ve been there before,” if they listen carefully to those best advisers they hired and, finally, know when to hold off or avoid situations when their experienced “gut” tells them there is something wrong.
That’s why many of our presidents came from the ranks of governors and the military. Not because they were necessarily the best and had many successes behind them, but because they also knew failure and had made mistakes – and learned from them.
The man fortunate enough to have had enough charisma and oratorical skills to capture the moment in the last two elections brought only those skills and was able only, when confronted by problems or people, to say “I won” or “My predecessor’s fault.” Lesson learned?