Don’t miss the basking whales

  • Sam Menter
Don’t miss the basking whales

Last year I met Carl. Carl is great. He was visiting the UK from San Francisco. We only met a few times but enough to build a level of trust. We talked design, went mountain biking and drank coffee. All good.

I told Carl about a planned trip to the Pacific North West with my three children. Without hesitation he introduced me via email to some old friends who live in Seattle. Similarly without hesitation, they invited my kids and I to visit their holiday camp on a private island in the San Juan islands!

I was bowled over by this level of generosity and openness from people I had never met.

But this put me in a dilemma. On the one hand I was being presented with a huge opportunity for an amazing experience, on the other I felt fear; fear of the unknown, fear of spending extended time with strangers, fear of travelling to a tiny remote island on the other side of the world with three children. Would they enjoy it? Would I enjoy it? Would our hosts enjoy having us? Would I be able to organise the logistics of travelling when the final leg involved calling a fellow called Zander with a fishing boat?

It wasn’t an easy decision but I took a deep breath and went for it.

The trip was fantastic. After an epic journey involving planes, trains and fishing boats, the family welcomed us as old friends. We fished the freshest crab I have ever tasted which we ate around the campfire, paddle-boarded around the bay tailed by seals and hiked to the top of the island where we soaked up views across the Haro Strait to Canada.

Travelling to the islands, our boat took the scenic route and at one point the engines were shut off as we drifted beside a pod of whales basking in the sunshine! One of the wales leapt into the air and plunged back into the water while we gasped and shrieked. It was amazing and will probably be the closest I get to whales in my lifetime.

At that point, I knew I’d made the right decision to visit the island. Embracing risk had been hard but ultimately so rewarding.

Innovation through design also involves risk. What if the concept fails? What if people don’t understand it? What if it’s the wrong thing? Testing and refining ideas as a service evolves mitigates this, but upfront it’s important to embrace risk and explore the power of the possible.

After all you don’t want to miss the basking whales!