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“The first step does not take you where you want to go, but takes you away from where you are”. This powerful quote by Alejandro Jodorowski has proven useful to me so many times in both my personal and professional life.

Being “Stuck” happens and it certainly did happen to me more than once, being a “thinker” borderline “overthinker”.


My favorite anecdote dates back more than twenty years, when a young aeronautical engineer got his first real job at his first real company. I remember my supervisor assigning me the task to write an approval testing procedure for an underwing cooling pod he had designed. He left me in front on an A0 sized, functional drawing of “The thing”, mumbling. I have to say I stared at it for about fifteen minutes or maybe more, trying to approach it from a theoretical point of view. At some point I felt clearly, well, frozen in front of the cooler. It took me what seemed to be an incredible amount of time to finally put a pen on paper and look at it with a more practical approach. This guided me with more practical questions: “What the purpose of this device?” “How do the systems go together?” or “What can and cannot be measured in a practical way?” and there it was: a couple of hours later the first draft of the document was ready. I feel so lucky to remember the exact moment I transitioned from being a graduate in engineering to be a real (rookie) engineer. It obviously wasn’t perfect, but I also felt incredibly energized by fact of actually progressing away from the starting point.


As I go through coaching conversations, the sensation of being stuck or blocked comes up very often. Leaving the metaphoric dock, we sometimes feel strapped at, is usually quite refreshing. Once the first step is taken, it’s like the energy locked in releases.

I wished there could be a magical trick to get out of my mental gridlocks, if so I haven’t found it. However the “Facts vs Opinion” distinction has been extremely helpful. How so? Well, I find common for me building castles of assumptions and sometimes highly sophisticated scenarios, all of which could and sometimes are built entirely on my assumptions or opinion. Investigating the distinction between Facts and Opinions always points me to the action, if it was only to prove that some of the hypothesis are grounded or not.

Some of the typical “Facts vs Opinions” questions include.

  • What really happened?
  • What does this opinion allow or prevent me to do?
  • How would this other person look at the same situation?
  • Which facts can I use to backup my idea?

Our brain, or perhaps only MY brain, is pretty clever in convincing that no move can be done unless we complete yet another scenario mapping or analysis. In other words, trying to protect us from the unknown, ends up paralyzing us with analysis and reducing the view angle for opportunities in front of us. Dealing with the issue with pragmatism and separating facts from opinions, on the opposite side, widen our point of view and help us to see how taking that first step does not take that much energy, really.

I’m glad a recent conversation allowed to resurface the “Cooling pod” story, it works for me as reminder of how it all started, how transforming the way I saw things helped me to take that first step, how the first step took me away from where I was.

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