Experience and Wisdom

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Apr 2021


A Special Edition from Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

A purple ribbon symbolizing remembrance of those who have passed away.

Understanding the difference between Experience and Wisdom

“Everyone has experience. Wisdom comes from reflection, admitting and owning mistakes, forgiving yourself, learning and stepping back up to the plate for another swing.”

What Does It Mean to be a Quiet Professional? by Rob Shaul.

Every fire, every shift, every season, we gain experience.

What can you do individually to turn your experience into wisdom?

What can your crew do to turn collective experience into group wisdom?

Consider these tools in your discussion:

Experience is good, but it is not wisdom. Experience must be converted into wisdom.

Reflect on a recent experience, a shift, an assignment, or a season. What actions will you take to transform that experience into wisdom?


Use these prompts for group discussion:

  • How can experience end up being a bad thing?
  • What is the difference between experience, wisdom, and luck?
  • How does your crew pass on wisdom?
  • What can you or your crew do to turn experience into wisdom?
  • What can prevent you and your crew from turning experience into wisdom?


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center

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