Last summer my family traveled to the Pacific Northwest for our summer vacation. There was so much we wanted to see that mapping out our route and scheduling our stops over 9 days was a major challenge. Especially because we wanted to visit British Columbia. Which I would have named Canadian Columbia, but what do I know?
The thing my son Johann wanted to see most on the trip was the Oregon Rail Heritage Museum in Portland. However, the museum’s schedule was a problem. It was only open Thursday through Sunday. And when the logistics were set, we would be in Portland on a Tuesday. #bummer
However, the museum was across the street from another site we planned to hit: the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. So my wife, Dawn, told Johann that we would drive by the train museum and see whatever we could see from the outside.
On The Outside Looking In
As we approached the train museum we indeed saw a few trains and train cars outside. Which was nice. But the reason Johann was so interested in this museum is that it held one of his all-time favorite trains. The magnificent Daylight 4449. The only remaining train of its type. The Daylight was inside the museum, and could not be seen from the outside. #Boo
Come on Clark, It Will Be Fun.
Dawn suggested that we park the car at the closed museum parking lot anyway, and take a look at the closed facility. So we did. In the process we encountered several signs reminding us that the museum was closed that day. I felt a little silly getting out of the car there. Like Clark Griswold parking at an obviously-closed Wally World.
A Sign Of Life
We got out of the car and walked to the fence surrounding the museum grounds. Then Dawn spotted two people exiting the closed building. They clearly looked like they worked at the Museum. Dawn walked briskly along the fence to the gate they were headed for. I knew she was in Deion Sanders-mode, and was trying to intercept them.
I cringed at the idea of what Dawn was going to say to these people. She’s aggressive. A trait that seems more in sync with her years living in New York City and Chicago than her childhood years in Wausau, Wisconsin.
I kept my distance as I watched Dawn intercept the man and woman at the gate. I could hear her sweetly explain that we had come all the way from Wisconsin, and that our son Johann would really, really love to see the Daylight 4449. I braced for the employees to remind her that the museum was closed. And that the sign out front should have told her that.
Instead, the man and woman both smiled at her story. Then, suddenly, the man unlocked the gate, and invited us in. Moments later we were standing inside the large museum staring at the grand prize. The Daylight 4449.
However, since the museum was closed, we didn’t get the normal view of the train. Instead, the wonderful people of the museum gave us an all-access pass to every part of the train, with the engineer as our personal tour guide. Our entire family got to climb up in the cab, past the Please Keep Off signs, which was my favorite part.
Johann got stories and insights that most people would have never heard. We felt like distinguished guests and VIPs at the train museum. It was a very special experience. And all for one simple reason: Dawn asked if we could come inside.
That experience provided our family with an important life lesson. It taught us all that if you want something you have to put yourself in a position to get it. You have to be willing to ask for what you want, and not be afraid to get a ‘No‘. It taught us that a closed door will sometimes open for you if you ask. And it taught us that some of the best experiences are on the other side of a locked door.
Often times a closed door will open when you show just how much you want to come inside. It pays to be earnest and honest about how much it means to you. Remember, someone holds the keys to unlock every locked door. Find that person, and ask to come in. The worst thing that can happen is you are told no. In which case you are no worse off than you were before. But if they say yes, it could open the doors to incredible new experiences and possibilities.
Today, there are many people facing real health and financial challenges. If you need help, or access, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s the quickest and most effective way to get what you want.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.