The Power of Lived Experience

03/Apr/2024 15:26:31 • Video • 08:25
Doug Lawrence

Good morning, it's been quite a while since we've had a little conversation and so I thought based on what's been happening with me the last couple weeks that it would be prudent or it would be a good time for us to have a conversation. And so today I want to spend a bit of time just talking about the power of lived experience. And the reason for this particular topic is that I've been involved in a few conversations that deal with lived experience and sort of the definition of it or how it's being used. And so what I would like to be able to do is, number one, let's talk a bit about lived experience from the aspect of how we can leverage that for working with other people. And I've got an example of a young person that I worked with that I'll share with you. But the most, I guess the big thing for me is the definition of lived experience. So I come at that from the aspect of mentoring. And with mentoring, lived experience has a greater scope where some of the other help, peer support type sort of responses focus on lived experience with the idea in mind that you must have lived experience in that particular area. So as an example, substance abuse, based on the definition that I've seen, I wouldn't be able to provide value or work with somebody who is dealing with substance abuse because I don't have any lived experience in that regard. And if we flip that from a mentoring perspective, that's not the case, that from a mentoring perspective I am, because of my background and all of those things, that it's just as easy for me to work with somebody who is dealing with substance abuse as it is dealing with somebody who is dealing with an issue of being in the service industry, and by service I mean law enforcement, for example. I don't need to have that experience to be able to share how we can work together and how we can move forward. So there's some of that, but let me share just a little bit of a story with you that will kind of put some context around this. I was actually mentoring a young person in an industry and had been brought in because there was some concerns of performance and all that sort of stuff, and I was brought in to spend some time with that individual. So if you can just kind of picture us in a room, just the two of us, and I've been trying to get a conversation going with this individual, and in actual fact we spoke for close to 50 minutes in which it was me sharing my lived experiences that I felt were relatable to the situation that this individual was in. And at the end of our session, it was roughly an hour in duration, at the end of our session I asked the question, which I do always, is what was the value that you got from our conversation today? And I might add that I was the one doing most of the talking, and the response I got back from this young person was that they had this sudden boost of self-confidence, their self-esteem had been elevated, they could see themselves in the stories that I was sharing with them, the experiences and stuff that I had, and they felt that they could go back, leave that room and go back to work, and they could be a meaningful contributor for the next little while. It was a lesson for me in that we needed to shorten up the time of us being apart, because it was in that time period there, if I would have kept the sessions to probably about one every three to maybe four days tops, that there would have been a lot more growth, but as it was, there was still growth with this individual, and they were able to reach out at any given time to be able to tap into my lived experience, and I was more than willing to share that. So there's one other example I wanted to give, and that's dealing with the aspect of grief, and I'm involved in a number of bereavement support groups, and what I'm learning is that everybody grieves differently, every passing is unique, and it has to be dealt with in that sort of fashion, but the common theme is that we're all dealing with, in these bereavement groups, we're all dealing with each person having had the loss of someone or something in their life, and so they're struggling, they're dealing with that, and because I have, for the most part, walked in those shoes, that it creates that bond, if you want to, for lack of a better choice of words, creates that bond where we can support each other and be able to move forward, and by doing so, that has, your lived experience plays a small part in that, it's more so about having walked in those shoes that's more important. So I guess if I were to summarize all of this, it would be that you need to tap into the power of your lived experience, and from my perspective, it's, I think of when I'm mentoring, and I tell people all the time that when I'm mentoring, industry-specific experience is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, and I'm going to suggest that lived experience is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have, although in a lot of cases, it is a need-to-have, you do need to have lived experience, but I think the differentiator is that it can be across multiple industries, if you want to use, we'll use the industry term, but it can span right across all that, it does not have to be specific to, say, substance abuse, like what we used as our example. So I hope I've been able to shed some light, and if you still have some questions and you're not sure, I'm doing a fair amount of research around lived experience and peer support mentoring and mentoring in general, so please feel free to reach out to me, and you can reach me by email, that's probably the easiest, and that's Doug.Lawrence, L-A-W-R-E-N-C-E, at talentc, so the word talent with the letter C on the end, dot C-A, and we can set up a time to connect and have a conversation. And in the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous day, and God bless.


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