One of the first presents I remember getting from my parents was a camera. I was about seven years old, and from the prints I still have, it seems that most of my photos were of my guineau pig, Muffin. There was a roll of film from my second grade class, and then there was a roll of film I took during a family gathering in the backyard. My dad was building a deck at the time, so amongst the photos of people eating food in the backyard, there are also a couple photos of him getting my uncle to help him with parts of the deck.
At the time, the fact that my father was building a giant deck didn't seem like a big deal. Just like making sandwiches or taking the kids to the museum, deck building was just one of those things that dads do sometimes. Looking back now, and doing the math, I realize that my father was around my current age when he built that deck. He had some kids by now, was married, had bought a house, and was now building a deck.
It occurs to me now that he probably had no clue about any of these things. What does a twenty five year old really know about marriage? Having kids is equal parts exciting and terrifying to me, and I'm five years older than my parents were when they had me. My father's father built things when he needed them, so I guess he taught my dad some things, but I also know that the giant deck in my photos was the first deck he'd ever built. How much did he know about deck building?
As I grew older and became more aware of what was going on around me, I realized that a lot of the time when my dad built something, he had no idea what he was doing. I don't mean that as an insult at all, though. Everything he built always came out great, and eventually, sick of an office job, he bulit things for other people as a profession. In fact, of all the great things I got from my dad, the willingness to tackle something without really knowing how to do it might be the most valuable.
When I look at my goals, short term and long term, I think about what could possibly stop me from reaching them. I wanted to ride my motorcycle to Alaska last summer, but the front end was messed up and it wobbled dangerously at 75mph. That stopped me (although I flew up and rented a bike to salvage the trip). There are various scenarios for SETT that could prevent me from building it into a really useful and successful company.
One barrier I'm always able to look past is: "I have no idea how to do this." Most of the cool things I've done are things I knew nothing about. I bought an RV to live in before ever talking to anyone else who lived in one. I taught myself Japanese despite not knowing anything about it. When I built Conversion Doubler, my first web programming project, I didn't know how to program. When I set off for Life Nomadic, I'd only been to one continent besides North America and had never spent more than a couple weeks outside the country (except for two months in Taiwan in 7th grade with my friend and his family). When I got into pickup, I had never been to a bar or done a single "cold approach". I was a really bad English student and had no idea how to write a book, but I did it (three times) anyway.
All of these things have turned out great, in a large part because I had no idea how to do them. Going through that discovery process firsthand forced me to internalize what I learned, adapt processes to my exact needs, and build a foundation of experiences on which to grow.
I get a lot of requests for advice, all of which I try to respond to. It's usually easy to spot the people who will succeed at what they're doing and those who won't. People who don't succeed tend to have questions like these: "I want to live in an RV. Do you think I'd be able to find parking in my city, _____?"
What? How about driving/biking/walking around and looking at parking signs? How about parking your car in a spot for a week and seeing what happens? How about just buying the RV and relying on your future self to figure out a parking situation?
In anything you do, you're going to have bumps in the road. Not knowing what you're doing is a very small bump, and it's one you're going to encounter time and time again unless you play it totally safe and never try anything new. If you're going to let that small bump stop you, even for a moment, then you'll never get over the much bigger bumps that are ahead of you. It's also an indication that you aren't willing to take risks, which again is correlated with low success.
So what's the right response to not knowing anything about something? First, assume that you can learn it. That's called self confidence. Next, jump in. Don't tiptoe in, JUMP in. Want to live in an RV? Great-- buy one, as many people on this site have. Want to learn to talk to girls? Great-- go start talking. Want to learn to program? Great-- look up a tutorial online and write your first program today. If you can read this post, you have the intelligence necessary to follow a tutorial and write a program.
It is so critical that you have this skill. Think about your life thirty years down the road: if every moment of uncertainty slows you down or paralyzes you, will you reach your goals? How about if you began today on mastering the art of acting in the face of uncertainty. Would be likely to reach your goals then?
Photo is a random shot from Zurich
I've lived in my RV for 10 days now. I have only gone back to the condo to get clothes, and to sleep one night (basically I picked a loud parking spot that was 10 feet from the condo and it was 5am so I just went inside instead of driving to a quiet spot). A lot of things have panned out as expected, but there have also been some big surprises.
I could go on and on, but you probably get the idea. I totally love living in this RV. It's a great feeling to drive over to my mom's house and have her say "Oh, you didn't happen to bring those tickets, did you?" and to just be able to walk into my house and get them.
My parents are really into the RV thing, which is funny. They're always a bit skeptical about my schemes. My dad helped me take out the CRT TV and the Microwave which I replaced with a flat panel and a flash bake oven. My mom made me nice curtains. I'm trying hard to resist the urge to totally trick out the RV. The carpet smells a bit musty so I might put in granite tile or bamboo floors. I think that would be neat.
I just returned from getting my son from college. It was a good trip. I took my dad with me so he could ride back with my son as a companion. My dad is 83.
Dad and I have made this trip before. Some remarkable and some not. Each time I learn something about him I did not know. It is a eight hour trip after all.
During this trip I learned about things he misses (an old college roommate), how he did not put his parents on a pedestal, and the importance of relationships in his life.
The relationship discussion is one that I would not have had 15 years ago. For whatever reason I never made the connection of how important they are. Not for career growth per se, although that is important. No, I have found that as I get older, I need other connections beyond my nuclear family and marriage.