Experience & Deep Reflection (GWTW270)

I’m wrestling with something this morning: How valuable is experience? As creative professionals and entrepreneurs, we prize the experience that comes when we spend time producing work and pursuing our craft, but is that all we need? Challenged by a quote from Story by Robert McKee, I’m going to explore the importance of both experience and what McKee describes as “deep reflection on our reactions to life.”

Quotes Referenced in the Episode:

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee:

“The novice plunges ahead, counting solely on experience, thinking that the life he’s lived and the films he’s seen give him something to say and the way to say it. Experience, however, is overrated. Of course we want writers who don’t hide from life, who live deeply, observe closely. This is vital but never enough. For most writers, the knowledge they gain from reading and study equals or outweighs experience, especially if that experience goes unexamined. Self-knowledge is the key—life plus deep reflection on our reactions to life.”

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport:

“Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Five Ways to Approach Life, Experience, and Deep Reflection to Maximize Self-Knowledge:

  1. Minimize distractions
  2. Learn by following your curiosity, reading, and listening
  3. Don’t fear the question, “What do I think of this?”
  4. Go deeper by asking, “What is the story being told?” and “What are the morals and values present that I’m connecting with or repelled by?”
  5. Recognize that self-knowledge (“life plus deep reflection on our reactions to life”) happens over time and goes against the technological and societal push to have an immediate reaction or receive an instantaneous result.

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