When I was 20.
I went on one of those outward bound things.
I and a bunch of strangers were led out into the wild.
We were asked to collaborate in the crossing of a freezing cold lake.
By fashioning 4 empty barrels, a 30 foot length of rope and 3 planks of wood into one robust and sailable vessel.
Fucking bonkers, really.
Another component of this seemingly pointless series of challenges was introduced to us as we were – later that day – led to a clearing.
Deep in the Kielder forest.
In the centre of the clearing.
Two thick trees stood 12 feet apart.
Between them were strapped twenty-odd, bright red and bright blue, jauntily angled, really long elastic luggage straps.
Those stretchy things with hooks on each end.
So they created a surreal, abstract latticed wall of elastic.
A latticed wall consisting of randomly spaced.
None of which were below waist height.
My 5 fellow adventurers and I had to physically pick one another up, in any order we chose, and physical pass the entire team of 6 people up off the ground and through the above-waist-height holes to the other side.
Without touching the elastic.
In under 20 minutes.
Not a transferable skill…
I remember thinking.
We were shite.
For 5 minutes we stood and talked and strategised.
(A rubbish delaying tactic to avoid physically touching another human being for as long as possible).
Who should go first?
The big guy.
But he’s heaviest and strongest so can pick up more people.
But then who will pick him up at the end?
For the next 12 minutes or so we picked each other up.
And passed each other around.
And, very occasionally, we actually tried levitating a person through a hole in the elastic to the other side.
We dropped each other.
We apologised for dropping each other.
We sat down.
We stood up.
And we laughed again.
And 17 of the 20 minutes passed quickly by.
With zero success.
The Last Minute.
With 3 minutes to go we tried a full 6 person pass-through.
We tried again.
And in the last minute.
The very last minute.
We tried again.
And we did it.
This task was never going to take more than a minute.
And we had 20 of them.
But which of the 20 minutes was going to be the successful one?
We could have been successful in any one of those minutes.
But the way we tackled the task meant that the first 17 were almost all wasted really.
With chatter and inaction and twatting about.
I will never forget this 20 minutes in the forest.
We did not need 17 of the 20 minutes (or 85% of the time) to prepare for this.
And I still see this kind off twatting about in business today.
31 years later.
But also; do.
And as a general rule, remember this.
Here is the very best time to really go for almost all important things that you will ever, ever be faced with in the course of your business or your career.