Exploring the Unknown

by  David Greer  |  Self Leadership
Exploring the Unknown

I was inspired by John Smith’s post “Don’t Know Nothin’ About This …” to appreciate the value of inexperience. When I look back at my life, some of the most powerful experiences came about because I just didn’t know better. Here are a few examples of times when I went into new adventures inexperienced.

Career Launch

In my 20’s, when I was still in university I joined Robelle, a young software startup, as the first employee. No one told me that startups were risky. I had worked with the founder Robert Green on a project and I thought it would be fun to join him and his wife Annabelle in their new company (Robelle = Robert + Annabelle).

As part of joining the firm, I had to agree to write my first technical paper. While still attending the University of British Columbia, I took a week off to fly to San Jose, where I presented to the International Association of Hewlett Packard Users Group Meeting. I was 22, standing on the San Jose convention floor telling other computer geeks about this cool software and what it could do for them. I was too inexperienced to know that this was the essence of marketing and selling products. Or that 22 year olds never gave papers or sold software.

Career Risk20150612.david.greer30 (1)

In my 30’s, after having worked at Robelle for a decade, Annabelle Green, the co-founder, decided she wanted to move on to other things. I agreed to purchase her stake in the business.

At that time, Karalee and I had two young children, aged 4 and 2. Much of the purchase was on credit and had to be paid out of future profits of the company. While I did know the market and the company, the credit came with terms that were onerous if I failed to make a payment. While it all turned out okay, I am glad that I didn’t fully appreciate the risks that I was taking when I did the transaction. Thankfully, Robelle continued to grow and succeed. I stayed for another ten years, building the company into a global powerhouse, while paying off all the debt incurred to make the purchase.

A Life Adventure

In my 40’s, I ended up selling my stake in Robelle. It was 2001 and the whole tech sector was melting down with the end of the dot com era. I had hardly noticed and while I was busy chasing new opportunities, I met a woman who pointed out a fundamental truth—our children would never be 11, 9, and 5 again. Did I need to work right away or should I take a break and live a life fully engaged with my children?

That was a light bulb moment in my life. Choosing to take a break, Karalee and I commissioned a sailboat in France and home schooled our three children, while traveling more than 5,000 miles in the Mediterranean. While we had sailed together for two decades, we had no idea that the Mediterranean is one of the windiest and roughest seas in the whole world. I’m thankful we didn’t know that before we went, because we may never have taken the risk of our adventure if we had known how boisterous the Mediterranean is before we left Canada.

Trying Yoga

While I live in Vancouver, a city many consider to be the yoga capital of North America, I

had res20150612.david.greer50 (1)isted all of Karalee’s suggestions to give yoga a try. In my 50’s, I finally agreed to start going to weekly yoga classes with Karalee. For over seven years now, I’ve been practicing yoga once or twice a week.

To me, yoga is the ultimate expression of having an attitude of inexperience. In all mindfulness practice, including yoga, the notion is to start every time with “beginner mind.” The point is that the experience you had last time has nothing to do with the experience that you are having right now. Start every yoga class as if you were a raw beginner and learn from what shows up today. The ultimate expression of inexperience.

Through four decades of my life, I’ve had the opportunity to try new things that I was completely inexperienced at. In every case, my inexperience contributed to either trying things or taking risks that I just didn’t know about forever enriching my life. May you try something new with a “beginner mind.”

What is your unexplored territory? Have you set foot in it yet?
Photo Credit: Personal Photos

About The Author

Articles By david-greer
David is the catalyst who gets you to fully live your dreams now. After time with him you feel equally scared and hopeful. Scared at the audacity of your dreams and hopeful because you have someone in your corner with the experience and desire to see your dreams become real.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Paul LaRue  |  16 Jun 2015  |  Reply

David, I enjoyed this inspiring look into your life’s journey!

Our lives are always filled with the unknown, and your progress through it all shows how we all can grow and learn and stretch each and every step of the way, and be the better for it.

I’m thrilled you opened up your life for all of us to get to know you better. Sometimes relating to each other helps us navigate those unexplored waters in life!

David Greer  |  16 Jun 2015  |  Reply


Thanks for your comments. My hope is that by sharing my stories you will be helped and inspired to try new things in your life. I’m so pleased that this one worked for you.



John E. Smith  |  16 Jun 2015  |  Reply


First, thanks for your kind acknowledgement of my very minor role in all this. My inspiration came out of my ongoing association with you and the other world-class thinkers who gather under this interesting professional tent that Becky has built.

Second, Deep appreciation for your sharing of personal stories that really nail the concept that sometimes we are better off not knowing:)

I think that is the lesson behind now knowing. We are more willing to try things when we do not know everything we could know about those things. Life is lived one day at a time, but when we worry about doing something, we usually cover a much broader scope. I hope those beginning their leadership journeys are listening to your words.

Third, Thanks a heap for reminding me of my own mostly-dishonored intentions to try “this Yoga thingie”, as I call it. It does not look painful, so I am taking a deep breathe and jumping in (figuratively, of course):)

As for your ending question, my wife often reminds me that I have been “stepping in it” for three decades plus now that she is personally aware of, and probably was before we met:)

Clear skies and smooth sailing …


John E. Smith  |  16 Jun 2015  |  Reply

Minor typo in third paragraph: Should read “I think that is the lesson from not always knowing, before you engage in something.”

Apparently, I was too busy being clever to spend a few seconds proof-reading:)


David Greer  |  17 Jun 2015  |  Reply

Hi John,

I ask that you believe in the power of your own writing. I read through several posts on Lead Change Group looking for inspiration. Your post happened to be the first I read and the one that I most strongly related to. The result is the post you see.

As I have aged, I notice that I tend to get ever more entrenched in my own stories and beliefs. Getting back to “the unknown” let’s me experience life in new ways. Not only does that keep me younger in attitude and outlook, it truly has let me appreciate and enjoy life in new ways.

Good luck with yoga. Like most changes, getting started is the hardest part. That’s a mental challenge–the physical part is easier. What I’ve learned from yoga is that it is great for both my mind and my body. Go for it.



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