No-Mad Sprinboard

Shift 1: From “Realism Blind Spot” to “Potentiality Spring Board”

This is one of the stories from our new series entitled “Your Next Wise Move: from MAD-LAND to NO-MAD Land”. Our legends are all italic. You can read the the first article here to get the Big Picture. 

In this article, we suggest one Shift in thinking which is essential to move from Mad Land to NO-Mad Land.

The shift

  • from “Realism Blind Spot:” the limited perception of Reality “as it is” seen by people who lack Imagination (and might nevertheless be at the top of an organization)
  • to “Potentiality Spring Board”: the open Hearts and Minds which allow to have an “intuition of what is possible”, see the Hidden Reality which is much richer than what is

Very few things are really impossible

Most of the time, it is a matter of “perception” and beliefs.

We tell ourselves a “story”.

We all know the saying: “They did not know it was impossible, so they did it!”

  • Art Tatum, a black almost blind child, started learning the piano on an instrument equipped with rollers of music. What he did NOT know is that these rollers reproduced four-hands scores. So, he became the most famous pianist in jazz history because he was the only two-handed person who played as if he had four hands.
  • Roger Bannister was the first person to break the four-minute mile running. Until then, it was simply assumed that human beings could not run that fast. What is interesting is that, in the years that followed, dozens of other athletes achieved the same performance. Why? Because they simply believed it was possible!
  • At the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, the best athletes were engaged in high jump competition. But they all respected the “conventional rules” (at that time, the straddle technique). So, they stagnated.  In other words, they were all “excellent” but could not improve their performances by sticking to the same rules of the game. Dick Fosbury, who was not a very good athlete, as he said about himself, adopted a “game changing approach”:  he invented what is now called the Fosbury flop. And he set a new Olympic world record at 2.24 meters (7 feet 4.25 inches), literally changing high jump forever.

By breaking the rules, those people made the “impossible possible”!

They created alternative paths.

They shifted the assumptions others had about limitations. They changed the story people told themselves and changed their lives. They inspired others.

The main danger is when we fail to see or imagine the non-impossible

What is “impossible”?

  • Of course, there are things which are objectively impossible, at least at a certain moment in time. Things like learning Chinese overnight and being able to read – and understand – Confucius the next morning seem to fall in the “impossible” category today!
  • Other things are perceived as impossible by ignorance. For instance: 1      1     1 = 6      Is impossible if you don’t know the concept of factorial: (1+1+1)! = 6
  • But most of the time, things are called “impossible” by lack of Creative Thinking or imagination.

A few years ago, a French researcher pointed out the monumental mistakes in decision-making. One of his examples was September 11th 2001. It has been proven that, long before, the German Intelligence Services had warned the FBI and the CIA in detailed ways about the preparation of the attacks. The political people in charge had all the information that could have prevented the catastrophy. Therefore, the question is: why didn’t they do anything about it?

And the answer is: by lack of Imagination!

The American Politicians in charge did not believe the information they received. More precisely, given their “Vision” of the world, they were incapable of imagining that terrorists would dare to attack the greatest power in the world!

So, as you can see, deciding is also imagining.  It is being capable of envisaging the “non-impossible”, of reaching the capacity to overcome the incertitudes that we create. And this is crucial because every day, decisions are made by Leaders, managers and ourselves….decisions which create the Future and depend on our more or less open Vision of the world.

From Realism Blind Spot to Potentiality Spring Board

 This is why we invite you to take this first wise move from MAD to NO-Mad Land: from “Realism Blind Spot” to Potentiality Spring Board”

Realism always pretends to be wise and lucid. But it is often simply blind. And not always wise.

As a saying goes: “Wisdom comes with age. But sometimes age comes alone.”

So, whatever your age is, when you see yourself or others pretending to “know” what is realistic, remember that “reality” is a story we tell ourselves.

Modern Physics has now proven “It is our mind that defines Reality and not the opposite”

Whether you are a Leader, a mother or a father, a brother, if you want to build a No-Mad world, it is now key to get out of the prison of the “Realism Blind Spot and to inspire others to free themselves.

You can consciously look at the world through vanguard lenses.

You can jump on “Potentiality Spring Board and have an enlarged Perception or Vision of “Reality”. It will change what you believe is “possible”.

It is time to reverse the traditional way of looking at things, attributed to Saint Thomas:

“I only believe what I see”. We know that “the eye only sees what the brain is ready to understand” (Bergson)

Concretely, here are two “Do’s” and “Don’ts” to support your shift:

  • Don’t CONFORM to obsolete ideas, beliefs or conventional Wisdom with usual pretexts such as “There is more to lose than to gain”, “There is no certainty”, “It is impossible”, “It won’t work”, “We already tried”, which characterizes old guard , conservative people which lack Imagination.
  • DARE “the Age of Unreason”(Charles Handy). Challenge conventional Wisdom when it can lead to greater “Wisdom”, invent your company’s “Fosbury flop”


  • Don’t use REALITY AS AN “EXCUSE” for not trying, making it the prison of repetition. As Jason Fried & David Heinemeir Hansson brilliantly put it in their book “Rework”: “The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying”.
  • FACE and SEE Reality as it is and as it is becoming. Escape appearances. Boost your “intuition of what is possible”, recognize an emerging state of the world is needed and engage in authentic questioning, no “bullshit” talk, participation to the movement with Imagination, Intelligence, Courage, and Purpose

What’s your next Fosbury Flop?

Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.
— Henry Ford


For more metaphors and stories from our new series “Your Next wise move: from MAD-LAND to NO-MAD Land”, please follow the link to the first article here.

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For those interested by more about decisions, this point is developed in my TEDX conference.


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