I spend a lot of time outdoors but sadly, it’s been 20+ years since I’ve been camping. However, last month I got the opportunity to go on a camping trip—in Wyoming!
When a new friend extended the invitation for this camping trip, I immediately looked forward to everything that I remembered camping offers. But since I wasn’t the trip originator, I did not (could not) allow myself to be a bother or a burden to my new friend.
As we planned the trip, my friend confessed that he had never flown. Given that I fly enough to maintain status on my chosen airline to enjoy some luxuries between flights, and I’m nearly 10 years older than him, our planning conversations were interesting to say the least. I was comfortable offering direction on the logistics of getting to Wyoming, but apart from the airport and the rental car, I felt like an amateur because I was ignorant about how to help plan the rest of our trip.
I was ready to tell him flight times, car rental choices and the hotel we’d use on the night we’d exit the wild, but he couldn’t tell me exactly where we’d be camping and if we would or wouldn’t be near our car each night. Which left me with a very big question: How do I pack?
The Boy Scout motto Always Be Prepared was ingrained into my psyche nearly 45 years ago, so of course, I packed for everything. Cold weather, blisters, food, trail mix, something to sit on, something to start campfires with, paracord for any reason imaginable, rain gear and more. Simply put: I packed for anything I feared would come up.
Packing like this is known as Packing your fears, and it’s a phrase I learned after the trip. It describes the desire to pack enough to handle everything that is thrown at you, even when everything is highly unlikely.
Packing like this is costly, however. The weight of my luggage to fly was an added financial expense. The weight on my back was an added physical expense. The anxiety of overplanning was a mental expense. And one could argue that there was added expense missing out on the benefits of being in the present because I was carrying more on my back than was necessary.
Thinking through all of this after my trip, I pondered this implication and its weight (hiking pun intended). It made me realize that packing for contingencies, just-maybes and what-ifs is costly—in camping, in life and in business.
How does packing your fears apply to marketing? Well, I can’t tell you how many clients approach Jackson in the 11th hour with budgets that they’d packed away for a rainy day that never came. They pack their fears by hanging onto valuable marketing dollars “just in case” and then when faced with “use it or lose it” at the end of the year, they frantically spend amidst the holiday madness.
I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t be prudent regarding our future, but packing our fears carries the burden of opportunity costs. How much more could I have enjoyed my trip without the fears in my pack? What is the cost of the marketing opportunities that came and went where the marketing budget could have been deployed? How much brand awareness could have been cultivated? How many more engagements with the audience?
Last month, I learned there are numerous life lessons in backpacking; but the simplest and most obvious is that when we try to carry enough to cover our fears, we create unhealthy and unreasonable limitations. But when we decide to set aside those fears, we relieve the burden of the carry, we open the possibility of going further, we climb higher, and we give ourselves permission to explore.
This profound but simple education on the trail applies as much to camping as it does to life and marketing budgets.