Differences between Lessons Learnt and Best Practices
Based on the emails I receive, I see that these two terms can cause confusion.
For me, a best practice is usually something positive that is known to produce good results that ought to be replicated. It is often a recommendation to inform future actions.
On the other hand, a ‘lesson learnt’ can be both positive and negative. Just as the name suggest, it is simply something that was learnt from an experience. The confusion comes into play as some lessons learnt can become a best practice.
Additionally, best practices can also come from secondary sources or third parties while the ‘lesson learnt’ is usually acquired from first-hand experience.
Let’s put it all together in this simple example.
A man decides to surprise a lady he is dating with a romantic weekend getaway to another area of the country. His plans were for them to go horseback riding and enjoy a lovely dinner by the seashore.
Turns out his efforts were foiled because his date would be away that very same weekend celebrating her mother’s birthday. Furthermore, she has a phobia for horses due to a riding accident as a child.
He was also surprised by how upset his date reacted when he told her about the plans he had made. Instead of being happy, turns out that even if she was available that weekend, she did not appreciate how ‘presumptuous’ he was being in thinking she would go away with him for a weekend this early into the dating process.
In the end he lost the money he had paid for the flights and hotel accommodation.
What were some of the lessons he learnt from this experience?
His date will be upset by any overly romantic gestures this early in the dating process
She celebrates her mom’s birthday out of town every year and will not cancel this custom for anyone or anything
If and when she is inclined to spend a weekend with him, he should find out her availability before booking a hotel or flight
He should have checked the cancellation policy of the hotel before booking
What are some of the best practices?
Well, here we see that some of the lessons learnt can also be a best practice (that is, a recommended action for the future).
If and when she is inclined to spend a weekend with him, he should find out her availability (this is a best practice as doing this will produce a ‘good result’ of knowing when the person is free to partake in the activity)
He should have checked the cancellation policy of the hotel before booking (this is a best practice as he would have known the terms and conditions of a cancellation upfront, and factor this in the decision of which hotel he booked).
Other best practices that are not unique to this guy’s experience but are based on the experience of others (third parties) that are now standard:
Buy travel insurance
Buy flexible airline tickets that have the option for changes to the date and time without penalty
Learn as much as you can about a woman in the initial stages of dating and not assume that she is like previous women you may have dated
Hope this fun example helps to clear up the differences between a lesson learnt and a best practice.