3 min read

During my 10-day silent meditation course last month, the course instructor beat into our heads where true understanding comes from.

The course was structured in such a way that we were intensely practicing the meditation technique for up to 11 hours per day. And every evening, there was a “lecture” where the instructor gave insight into why we were practicing the method the way that we were.

He kept impressing on us that the only way to truly understand anything was through experience. None of the ideas he shared were difficult to intellectualize, but intellectualizing something is not the same understanding as experiencing it.

For a long time, I heard friends and mentors say, “cash is king” or that their biggest struggle was “cash flow.” I could intellectualize why and how cash flow might be a problem in a business, but until I was faced with a big investment this winter, I didn’t truly understand it.

Suddenly the choices of going into credit card debt, selling time that I didn’t have, or walking away made my understanding of cash flow much, much more real.

Gambling addiction would be an another easy problem to intellectualize. But until you’re down $300 at the Blackjack table and looking at the Roulette table across the aisle, thinking, “If I took out another $300, I could win it right back…” that you truly understand.

There is such power in understanding. The understanding that comes through experience.

This week I spent a lot of time onboarding new members of Unreal and creating our 12-week roadmaps together. After having done this exercise 50+ times — evolving my questions and the order I work through them — it just works. Having seen similar of goals and people at different stages of their project or business, the patterns are clear.

The paths forward and solutions become clear too. Even simple in some ways.

Things like messaging, marketing, sales funnels…these were all foreign concepts to me in the past that I didn’t know a thing about. Now, they seem simple.

That’s what experience does — it makes what was once mysterious, daunting, and difficult simple.

And that reinforces another idea for me through experience: going to others who can help you fill a knowledge or skills gap is so worthwhile. Through them, the mysterious, daunting, and difficult can become simple. And simplicity is difficult to create.

When someone who sees the path can help sherpa you down it, they are giving you a shortcut to experienced understanding. And that time, pain, and money saved relates directly to not only opportunity cost in the moment, but future opportunity cost from compounding returns.

This is why internships, paired learning, co-ops, and apprenticeships are such great models for learning a skill. Safe, accelerated, experienced understanding.

Find a coach. Find a mentor. Sometimes you don’t even have to meet them — your mentors may be in the cloud.

Find someone who has smashed through the challenge you’re facing, and let their simplicity be your guide. It’s worth it, and the clock is ticking.

PS: Once something begins to feel simple to you, it’s common for you to start feeling a little antsy. We expect things to be hard and challenging. This piece by my friend and Unrealer Reagan Pugh is a great reminder that we don’t have to.