Hi, Mark here!

I want to talk about a live talk I gave recently in my city, for the opening of the 14 Anniversary of Autumn Leave Films a couple of years ago.

I feel this is important because many people mistake experience for improvement.

Some people believe they are very good at something because they have been doing it for years.

But as John C. Maxwell says, "some people think they have 20 years of experience, when in reality, they only have 1 year of experience repeated 20 times."

A long time ago, when I was editing video, a business owner who is now my friend, called me because she needed some help with a video.

The video was to promote a campaign for people who needed special education, and the problem was that the editing was not emotional, and after seeing the work I have done in the past, she hired me as a freelancer and consultant.

Well, I had only about a year of experience editing video and I was supposed to help a video editor who had around 5 years of experience.

Huge difference.

How come the less experienced guy (me) was hired to help the more experienced guy?

Was it because I was gifted?

That is the easy answer lazy people give, "you are so gifted!"

And they say this because they don’t like to dig deeper into the matter.

But no, it was not because I was gifted, it was because I had 1 year of constant improvement in video editing, and the other video editor, who is now a very good friend of mine too, had maybe a couple of months of experience repeated many times.

Wait, isn’t experience the same as improvement?

Here is the easy answer to that. NO! It’s not the same!

Repeating something many times gives you experience.

But experience is not the same as improvement, because, what if you repeat something the wrong way for years?

Experience is not the same as improvement.

So, how to you convert experience into growth?

Ok. Are you ready? Here is how.

By reflecting on your past experience. Applying reflective thinking (which I learned from Maxwell’s training program “Successful Thinking”)

This is when you not only have an experience, but you also reflect on it, when you actually stop to think about it.

You think about what you did correctly, what you did wrong, and how to improve it.

In my case, I had an intense year criticizing my own edited videos, I would get feedback, I would make sure they would make you feel something.

If a video sequence didn’t give chills to people, then it was not working.

I would get honest and brutal feedback to make any changes I needed to do to improve.

At some point, this business owner saw a simple sequence I did and decided that I was the guy she needed to improve her commercial.

I did so, and lucky for me, the video editor with years of experience was not arrogant, he was such a cool guy and he was open to learn.

I learned about the equipment they had and how to use it (very expensive equipment that I could only dream of) and they learned how I made sequences more emotional.

Most of it had to do with picking the right music.

The main lesson here is: I was not gifted. I only paid more attention on my work, and did a careful examination, questioning the quality, getting feedback, making sure every single detail was working.

Now, I don’t want to be subjective, so let me explain so I can be more objective here. By "working", I mean that my videos were making people feel something.

If my videos didn’t cause any emotional reaction, then, they were not working. That is the lesson this video editor learned.

And the lesson I want you to get from this is:

Experience is not the same as improvement.

If you want to improve, you need to reflect on your experience.

And the only way you can do that is by tracking your progress.

If you are improving your drawing, then track how many drawings you are doing per week.

Every week, take some time to reflect and criticize your own work, and then improve it.

If you are practicing animation, then track how many animation exercises you are doing a week. Or how much chunks of animated work you deliver each week.

Maybe you can complete 1 sequence per week.

Or animate 100 frames per week.

Whatever your measurement, track it, and reflect on it on a weekly basis.

And when you complete a month, reflect on that month.

What do I mean by reflecting? I mean analyzing it. Criticizing it. Doubting it. Getting feedback. Improving it.

You should have:

  • Weekly reviews
  • Monthly reviews
  • Yearly reviews

Of course, only if you consider this important.

If this is not important for you, then you are just doing it for fun, and you can forget this lesson, just enjoy whatever you are doing :D

But if you are doing this for growth, then track your progress and reflect on it.

Tracking your progress not only helps you improve faster than the average, but it also boosts your motivation to keep going.

Ok, that’s it for this article, I hope you learned a lot from it today.

Remember, the main lesson here is: Experience is not Improvement.

To improve, you must reflect on that experience.

---

SPECIAL NOTE:

By the way, if you want to check a super cool program that makes it easier for you to animate simple characters, so you can start practicing the 12 principles of animation, you can check the new features of Cartoon Animator 4, the next update (and new name of) of CrazyTalk Animator 3.

With the new AUTO RIG feature, you will be able to get characters up and running in no time so you can practice animation sooner.

Learn more