crash and drown

Some things in life can’t be tried; they can only be done. Pilots can’t try to take off from an aircraft carrier and hope for the best. They either become airborne or go for a very expensive and potentially lethal swim.

Training for take-off and landing from a ship in the ocean doesn’t happen out on the ocean (initially). It starts in a classroom, studying the procedure theoretically. Followed by training in a simulator. Aspiring pilots can move on to the real deal once they’ve acquired enough virtual experience. Practicing on airstrips on land first, only then can they move on to an actual aircraft carrier.

Manoeuvres your business can only perform once, for instance, signing an exclusivity deal, should be analyzed appropriately.

Two sneaker brands tell us to “just do it” because “impossible is nothing.” An excellent mindset to adopt provided the initiatives won’t damage your brand. If that’s the case, by all means, don’t hesitate. Experiment and learn. If it’s a silver bullet, hit or miss initiative, look for ways to simulate the outcome first.

pop-up ego

After years of training, trying to keep your ego in check, you think you’ve nailed it. You’ve become a calmer person and stopped taking everything personal. Difficult to measure the intangible ego, but you feel confident in saying your ego is tiny. Even contemplating the chance, you got rid of your ego altogether.

Until a situation presents itself where suddenly the ego pops up as if it never left. Hello, darkness, my old friend. Like some commercial real estate that’s been vacant for the longest time and almost overnight, a retailer decides to set up (a pop-up) shop. It doesn’t take long to figure out what’s at play. The adrenaline you feel when somebody in traffic breaks unexpectedly and a collision seems imminent. The visceral reaction that lets an adrenaline shot ring out in your body. The sequel to your life: “the ego returns”. This time it’s back with a vengeance.

The trick isn’t to try to suppress the ego. The trick is to actively look for more ego evoking situations to train responses better.


When somebody breaks into my apartment in the middle of the night, I swear I’ll show them… hesitation, for a split second. Immediately after, I’ll defer to a personal contingency plan. One that I’ve played many times in my head. A plan that, up until now, I’ve had to invoke twice, in two different places. Some extraordinary (and potentially traumatic) situations are nevertheless straightforward enough to envision ourselves react in a certain way, should they occur.

Until it actually happens. Suddenly the reaction is entirely different than planned. Worse, acute paralysis could momentarily take over. Perish the thought a situation manifests itself, one that can’t be anticipated.

Sometimes, bright academics lecture students — and general audiences through (social) media — without any hands-on experience whatsoever. You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?

Preparing theoretically and practically are two entirely different things.