I just got back from Overland Expo West where I was on booth duty. Frankly, I love working the show booth because I enjoy helping others with their questions. On the way home I stopped for the night at a favorite camp spot in NorCal off of HWY 395. I opened an IPA and started reading the latest issue of OutdoorX4 magazine. There was an article by Susan Dragoo (“If It Were Easy, Everyone Would Do It”) that touched on some of the basics of overlanding and camping, mostly from a female perspective. It is a great article and it made me think about something: experience.
At the risk of sounding like an old man (I am nearly 40—get off my lawn!), you can’t expect to be good at things the first go around. You need to cut your teeth. I’ve been in the off-road aftermarket world for 12+ years now (how the hell did that happen?). I started as a rookie for sure. I was an on-road car guy. I mean, I had an appreciation for well-built 4x4s, but I didn’t know much about them. I had to learn—and still learn all the time.
Whether it’s at Overland Expo or another show, I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me and say, “This might be a dumb question, but …” I know it’s cliche, but there are no dumb questions! The only dumb question is the one that’s not asked. How else are you expected to learn? Osmosis? Telekinesis? Can you even learn by telekinesis?
Let’s face it: Google searches and Youtube videos will only get you so far. Stick your neck out. Don’t hesitate to ask the questions, no matter how simple, trivial, or silly you might think it is—because it probably isn’t. Everyone has to start somewhere, whether that’s in reference to vehicle recovery, camping, traveling, or frankly, anything else. We also work occasionally in the wine industry. We get people that ask “how do you pronounce viognier?” I applaud you for asking and not just faking it until you make it. (And if you were wondering, it’s vee-yoh-N’YAY.) Just ask. Don’t be embarrassed.
Most of us aren’t naturals at anything. You don’t become an accidental expert. It takes time—years of training and interaction with others—before you really know your stuff, whether it’s automotive-related, wine-related, or anything else. And if you are an expert, share your knowledge with other curious folk. Pass it on.
It’s easy to take your knowledge for granted. “Doesn’t everyone know that?” No. They don’t. Remember, you started as a newbie at some point, too. And at some point you acquired the knowledge.
Ask. Learn. Pass it on.