I had just finished some yoga poses, and was relaxing with my legs folded under me on the grass.
I looked up, and this older gentleman came over and sat next to me. He broke the ice by talking about how he can’t sit like that anymore, too much pain in his knees. His broken English wasn’t too bad, but we had to slow down our conversation a bit.
He continued explaining that, back in India, people used to sit on the ground all the time, even for meals. “People aren’t connected to nature like they used to be”, he said.
Being a geologist in India, he saw the changes first hand, ground water levels decreasing, pollution, climate change. Now at 75, retired, and living in Canada, he still tries to come to the park to relax.
“What advice do you have for someone my age to be more connected with nature?” I asked.
“Hah. advice will come and go, experience will last with you a lifetime”, the man chuckled.
I was taken aback by this response. Most people jump at the chance to give advice. So, I thought about it for a while. What if we rely too much on the advice of others instead of creating experiences for ourselves?
Advice has its place, but it doesn’t usually create emotion. If you think of how our minds work, memory works best when there’s meaning, story, senses, and emotion involved. If you’re emotionally charged, you’re more likely to take action.
If we want to influence anyone to change behaviour, including ourselves, our focus should be on experiential learning. We need to build emotion into what we do instead of just stating facts and advice.
Which also makes me think about parenting. If I want to teach my girls lessons about morality, about sustainability, about relationships, I should try to create experiences, not just tell them.
This can apply to marketing, to thought leadership, to networking, and to the programs of your nonprofit or social enterprise.
Tell it, and it may go quickly. Build an experience for someone, and the lesson will last a lifetime.