“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” ―Babe Ruth
I was reminded recently of this famous quote from perhaps the most famous home run hitter in the history of baseball, Babe Ruth. You see, my twin boys bought a house last year, and one of their new homeowner projects is finishing the basement into a man-cave.
Of course, I offered to supervise and then assisted by helping them design a complete new electrical system with a 100-amp subpanel, and 8 separate 20-amp branch circuits, each on its own switch. Yes, a lot of power for a basement, but when you start adding up video games the power requirements grow rather quickly.
We pulled the proper permits, got all the studs in, then I showed them how to properly run wires. Lots of wires. Of course there were a few arguments as to why did things have to be done a certain way, and why is the National Electrical Code a bit petty at times? But since we were permitting this and had real inspectors overseeing the job, it had to be done perfectly, and to code.
But my kids are fearless, like their dad, and jumped in with both feet. However, try as I might to impress upon them just how dangerous live wiring could be, it didn’t seem to sink in. That is, until one of them accidentally drilled through a wire that was hot. Yikes! Of course it made a big flash/bang and blew out a chunk of his drill bit, but mostly it just scared him as he was standing on the chair not moving.
Neither of them had checked the back of the stud he was drilling through, and his drill bit went right through a piece of 12-gauge wire on a 20-amp breaker. His twin brother was watching him do it (I told both of them there would be NO solo wiring), and he was a bit scared by it as well.
Of course, I walked into the room moments later on a random field inspection, and they were worried that I would yell at them for making a stupid mistake. But no, I did not yell at them at all. In fact I congratulated them for taking all the appropriate safety precautions to keep them safe, even when they made a mistake. And I told them that EVERYONE has to make a stupid mistake once in a while, and I had done something very similar when I was half their age. They admitted they would never forget to check the back of a stud for a wire before drilling. They learned a lot from this.
A few days later one of my electrician colleagues stopped by for a pre-inspection inspection, and the boys proudly showed him the piece of burned wire and drill bit with the chunk blown out of the side, and he told them basically the same thing I did. He himself (the owner of a company that does commercial and residential wiring) had a similar thing happen to him when he was an apprentice electrician. He told my boys that everyone has to make a mistake like that in order to be properly wary when working around electricity. But he was also impressed that they jumped back into the job to finish it, this time a little bit wiser.
Driving back from this encounter with a short circuit (and my own past experience of shorting out an electrical panel which blew up in my face) I saw a scrolling sign on a bank that had a quote from Babe Ruth, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” And I thought about that quote on the rest of my drive home. Even though Babe was the greatest home run hitter of his time (and certainly now is known by everyone for his flamboyant attitude on and off the baseball diamond), he also struck out a lot. With his reputation as the King of Home Runs came the title of the King of Strikeouts. Alongside his 714 career home runs stood a legacy of 1,330 strikeouts – a figure a purist of the time would find appalling.
But the Sultan of Swat gave himself permission to fail. And he famously said that every strike was getting him a little closer to his next home run. The same thing should go for you if you make a mistake while camping, or even the rest of your life. If you don’t swing hard without worrying about striking out, then you’ll never feel the thrill of hitting a home run.
My kids and I have always given ourselves permission to fail, and so should you. Take a big swing and hope for the sweet spot. If you don’t make contact, then swing again. It’s the best way to get in the game.
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.