“I Hear and I Forget, I See and I Remember, I Do and I Understand.” – Chinese Proverb
At age 16, my parents suggested I embark on an experiential education adventure. They saw me spending too much time on the phone, idly chatting with friends, and my general lack of motivation and direction. My grades were just okay, and as a cross-country and track runner, I came in mid-pack during races. My parents saw average, and they were right. I was not living at my potential. After two weeks in the wilderness with a group of strangers, I returned home a different person. My grades became straight A’s and I won my races. Not because I studied longer or trained more. My mindset had shifted; I was capable of anything. Experiential education has the power to teach us that we are capable of anything we set our minds to. The impact of that lesson is immeasurable. It fosters leaders of positive change on every scale.
Now, having worked in the experiential education field for over 20 years, I am very familiar with the questions on everyone’s mind: “Why is it so powerful? How does it produce the same, incredibly wonderful results every time?” Here is my answer: There is magic in the combination of a wilderness setting and groups working together to overcome challenges. Kurt Hahn, a pioneer of experiential education stated, “There is more in us than we know. If we can be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”
Experiential education wakes us up from the haze of our habits, and reminds us that life is a fun adventure; we grow, we change, we become. It breathes a fresh wind into the boredom and fruitlessness of stagnation. Life shifts from one-dimensional to 3D, because we are experiencing what we learn. It’s the difference between hearing about a mountain, seeing a picture of a mountain, or climbing a mountain. Only the latter strengthens us physically, intellectually and morally. Climbing the mountain vs. hearing about it or seeing it is also a lot more fun, and engages all of our senses.
Experiential education is a game changer, and what you learn affects your daily life in positive ways you never could have predicted. The resourcefulness, sense of confidence, compassion, and zest you acquire will, very literally, change the life that you lead. Obstacles become challenges you overcome with confidence. Other people, maybe once perceived as “different from you,” become “people like you”.
Leaders are created through experiential education experiences, because you learn to have confidence in yourself and in others. You naturally see others’ strengths and potential rather than limitations. You understand what it took to get yourself up the mountain, because you climbed it, step by step. You know and live by the inherent value of yourself, others, and the natural world.
You won’t hear and forget, or see and remember. You will understand how to lead an extraordinary life of fun, compassion and adventure.
Amanda Sturner, RMT is a certified Strategic Intervention Life Coach, and the founder of Stretch Zone Coaching. She teaches specific tools to create the changes you want or need. She can be reached at stretchzonecoaching.com.