Experience is hard won, experienced people have an intuition built up over time that is not always obvious, and is certainly not a “by the list” analysis of all the factors, weighing up the relative importance of each, and reaching a conclusion. Somehow it is a cognitive process that happens really quickly.

Some years ago my daughter had an accident in a gym, and very badly broke her arm, to the point of being almost severed. Whilst it was treated as an emergency, and substantial resources immediately  swung into action, 24 hours later it was an experienced nursing sister, someone with many years orthopedic trauma experience who noticed a couple of very minor inconsistencies, and demanded a specialist review. That saved my daughters arm from gangrene setting is as a result of Carriage Syndrome. When I asked her how she recognised it, when nobody else had, all she could say was that she “just did”. Experience. She knew enough through experience, had seen enough cases in the past with all the nuances that occur,  to recognise cognitively what was going on, rather than just knowing what to do to apparently address the all the apparent problems of a severe compound fracture.

Psychologist Gary Klein has made a lifetime study of decision making, describing the impact of experience on decision making, and how it works in situations of stress, ambiguity, and time critical situations.

Considering the value of this experience should shake some of the corporations around who hire 30 year olds rather than 50 year olds, (and 60 year olds) because of a perceived “vim and vigor” benefit, but what about the instinct and intuition built of long experience? Experience covers all aspects of life, the positive impact of experience influenced decision making is just more obvious in some situations than others. Experience enables those who have it to instinctively see what is going on, rather than just responding to the more obvious what to do.