Yes I can and if I can, so can you! The “yikes” is about taking a giant leap into the unknown. To date I can say the lessons learned apply EVERYWHERE — in our personal lives and at work too.
So here’s what happened. Twelve years in Florida and as beautiful as it’s been, I knew it was time for a change. But what? And where? Did not have a clue.
A weekend camping trip with my sister and brother-in-law in their travel trailer and suddenly I got to thinking: “Why not?” I stored the thought in the back of my mind but it kept coming back. I dared not utter a word about it at first. Wasn’t too long however that I blurted it out to them.
Time to Make the Move
Sell my House and Buy
a Travel Trailer
With no camping experience and being one of the least mechanically inclined individuals I know, it seemed like a reckless pipe dream. A dream that was destined to become reality much faster than I could have imagined.
At first I considered a small A-Liner. I figured I could handle that. But then how would I ever have enough space for all my stuff – especially what I needed in my work, printer, computers, books, etc.
One thing was clear, I’d never give up my work. I spent an entire weekend trying to figure this out – living full time in a mini trailer seemed RIDICULOUS for my circumstances. I gulped hard. Ok can I get a bigger size. And no I don’t want a Motorhome. Would not work with my work/play lifestyle. I wanted the flexibility of a separate vehicle.
I could hardly think of anything else; other options, what to do? Suddenly I was reading everything I could put my hands on about RV’s, listening to hard core trailer maintenance videos and asking everyone I knew: my garage mechanic, former VP Wood Operations who oversaw heavy equipment for a billion$ company, the wife of a former colleague who drove and towed a 30-foot trailer and the list went on and on. Everyone assured me that I could do this. But I wasn’t convinced. I watched my brother-in-law like a hawk trying to absorb everything he did as he hitched and unhitched his travel trailer. My sister was just as knowledgeable as he. Not reassuring to know that they had been camping for more than 30 years. I had less than 30 days.
Well I bit the bullet and within a few weeks, I bought a Jeep, a 24-foot trailer and put my house up for sale.
The MAGIC of that Bold Decision Was to Say: “I DON’T KNOW!”
This simple statement of “I don’t know” coupled with “What do you think?” had people flocking to me to help. I suddenly realized that as an adult, I had rarely if ever put myself in a blank slate situation to say “I don’t know”. No sooner are we out of grade school or maybe even earlier, we quickly learn that “knowing” has far greater currency than “not knowing”. The higher up you get on the totem pole of corporate life, the less you say “I don’t know”.
And yet it’s behind that “I don’t know” that life delivers the biggest gifts of learning, creating, sharing and collaborating. And what lurks there too is the exhilaration of all that you can learn when you aren’t paralyzed with the fear of failing, looking stupid or feeling not enough.
I’ve been giddy like a kid at all that I learned in such a short time. And oh the pride of backing up that behemoth trailer (yes 24 feet feels that big) all by myself, the first time, second time and now already dozens and dozens of times.
Yes, I’ve had my share of minor mishaps in “a fail and fail fast” way but it pales in comparison to everything I now can do and best of all, the terminology has already become second nature to me. No longer will I put myself in the category of “not mechanically inclined”.
The lessons I’ve learned from this big life decision is that work should also be this way. Companies would be much better served if they valued the ability of people to say “I don’t know” rather than looking for and only rewarding people who know the most. By doing so, we are limiting the amazing opportunities for shared learning, shared leadership, collaboration, innovation, initiative and tons more.
Trust me. I know what the impact is when we can readily admit: “I don’t know”. A whole new world opens up, knowledge comes gushing in, and then you feel ready to tackle just about anything. Because, you’ve experienced what it’s like to say (not admit): “I don’t know>”. After a while, you savor this approach and others get infected too.
If you don’t believe that a steep curve of learning at any age is possible, have a look at the photos and my trailer departure and arrival checklists as I practiced how to hitch and unhitch, driving thousands of miles on many solo trips. Best of all, I’ve got loads more to learn about trailer life and all those wonderful places I’ll get to visit.
Home Sweet Home at the End of a Long Day!
So what do you think?
Are you ready to take the learning leap and say: “I don’t know!” and then to ask: “Can you help me?” If you do, you’ll be delighted at where life takes you!