Two weeks ago I took part in the XP2013 meeting new people, listening to knowledgeable Agilists, learning new games, and generally enjoying the positive hype that surrounds these kinds of conferences. One of the conference‘s underlying, yet distinctive themes spanning across those five days seemed to generally be trust or better yet the lack of trust amongst people. The wish for regaining a deeper connection between people. Gitte Klitgaard‘s presentation “Be Brave“ resonated this theme beautifully and gave advice on how to overcome this issue. David Anania spoke about it in his keynote when clarifying the differences between hearing and listening and the importance of doing the latter. On top of that, I heard Amanda Palmer‘s TED talk “The Art of Asking“ and her wish to really connect with people mentioned more than once during the coffee breaks.
Halfway through the week, it came to me. I believe that I know a solution to this issue. It is simple. It is cheap. It is doable in most countries of the world. It is fun. It is hitchhiking.
As a professional hitchhiker, I can only say that this form of transport covers all of these topics. Both the hitchhiker and the driver have to overcome the issue of trusting a complete stranger. Both of them cannot escape connecting with each other while sitting together for a varying amount of time. Whether they can speak each other‘s language or simply gesticulate their way towards non-verbal communication, they share something special.
I have hitchhiked around England, Scotland, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Morocco. I have been picked up by professionals, students, unemployed, immigrants, Ferraris, driving school cars, lorries, goths, police cars, single women, families with crying babies, music bands, old ladies, lonely men, convertibles, and people who had never in their lives even considered picking up a hitchhiker. They have offered me a place to sleep, breakfast, a shared walk in the French countryside, homegrown food, sightseeing tours, money. With each one of these drivers, I share a special memory. No, I don‘t hitchhike alone. For my own and the driver‘s safety, I am always with a friend. Yes, there are certain rules that should be abided to when hitchhiking (http://hitchwiki.org/en/Safety). But they simply make the whole experience of hitchhiking and picking up hitchhikers even more enjoyable.
This is my message to you. Take a friend and try it. It will be rewarding. For a brief time-box, you will be made a part of somebody else‘s life. You will connect. You will experience what trust really means. And if you‘re still not convinced to try it yourself, maybe the next person sticking out his or her thumb by the side of a road will convince you.
Perhaps I will host an open space session on what hitchhiking teaches us about communication in our personal and professional lives at next year‘s XP2014 in Rome.
What is your opinion on this?!