Is the arena the only place to learn?

Interesting as this quote by one of this decade’s most prolific influencer is, can’t say I totally agree with it.

For starters, not everyone gets to be in the ring. Not everyone gets to experience it. And some people might think they’re in the arena but actually the action might be happening a good twenty feet from where they’re having a fistfight with themselves. It’s really relative. Since most people don’t actually experience the proverbial arena, would you say that most people aren’t really qualified to provide feedback? Probably not.

Experience isn’t a necessary prerequisite for any feedback. Enough observation, indirect involvement in similar situations, a particular affinity for the person going through a moment could also give enough perspective to form an opinion and generate a feedback. Experience is definitely ideal state but how many times an ideal state truly exists?

So here’s what I think is the fundamental problem with this quote. This quote restricts people from “feeling” an experience by virtue of the human connection. This quote undermines how smart human beings are. It basically creates a restricted group of humans with shared experiences. It isolates humans who are in the throes of an experience from humans who may be able to have a lesser-biased, less nuanced opinion of their situation.

And we need that! We need an unclouded judgment when we are getting our ass kicked. We need someone who isn’t in “fight or flight”. The worth of the person outside the ring, evaluating the match, keeping score, taking points, calculating the pros against the cons can’t be easily dismissed. True that that person isn’t getting their ass kicked, but their feedback is valuable in how they can be pragmatic by virtue of being detached and unscarred. A lot of wisdom passed from one generation to the next is not from direct experience but from an observation of someone else’s experience and for that, its value remains undeniable.


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