Experience Is When Ability Transforms Into Expertise
August 22, 2023
Both my kids are accomplished amateur musicians. As a parent, watching them develop their musical abilities has been fascinating.
In the early days, their musical learning was rote-based. The teacher taught a few melodic tunes, and my kids practiced what they were taught. Through repeated practice, they cemented their basics and slowly but surely developed their musical “ability.” They could reproduce the songs precisely as the musical notes needed them to.
From the formative phase, as they kept practicing diligently, they developed the ability to play the songs without referring to musical notes. The notes they had been playing all these years had become muscle memory. Any song they heard, they could immediately reproduce without the help of any written notes. Their ability evolved into something more profound.
They continued learning music from their teachers, and they kept practicing diligently. After a few more years, they become experts. They could improvise, add variations and build on the basic notes to create unique music. They were able to play music for an audience to connect with them. Thanks to their consistent practice and commitment to excel in music, for both my kids, ability evolved into expertise with experience.
Something similar to musical evolution happens in our careers too. To do high-quality work without being told, to foresee things before they happen, to offer sound judgment and deep insights, to raise the bar, to innovate and experiment, and to solve problems intuitively- all this is possible if, with experience, we sharpen our ability to develop expertise. Putting it differently, we can call ourselves experienced only when our abilities have evolved into expertise.