The problem with good advice is...

I served my national service in South Africa. All up spent 4 years of my life in uniform. By and large those years were wasted (another story) but I have always tried to seek out those secondary benefits, and one of them has stood me in good stead.

When you train to go into battle and you are being ‘delivered’ to the site in the back of a troop carrier, you have to dismount while the vehicle is moving.

The vehicle drives in a large circle and every ten meters or so. A soldier has to dismount and take cover while the vehicle continues. The speed is probably about 20km per hour, and as you can imagine there is a lot of noise and dust and yelling of instructions. When it is your turn, you have leave your seat (really just a wooden bench) proceed down the bed of the truck and approach the tail gate at a fresh clip … and jump.

Sounds simple. And it is. If you follow one piece of advice.

The problem with a lot of good advice is that it is counter-intuitive. (Because if it was obvious, it wouldn't have been required.)

And almost without fail, on the first round, every one of us landed on our butts/backs. Your rifle gets dirty, you are not in a position to assume your position, so you can imagine that it made the sergeant very unhappy.

The advice was that when you jumped, you had to throw your weight forward. Specifically, since you were carrying a 40KG back pack, you had to use that weight to create as much momentum as possible, and fling your weight forward so that feels you are going to do a face plant. The speed of the vehicle and momentum/inertia and gravity would ensure you landed on your feet.

Despite being told what to expect and what to do, we all learned the hard way.

Two lessons I learned from that experience:

  1. If the momentum is going one way and you want to go the other way, AND you want to land on your feet, throw yourself into with all your might. Despite your fears and the apparent stupidity.
  2. If someone gives you advice based on deep experience, especially if it is counter-intuitive, it pays to listen.

(And I wonder if companies would fare better if they had a platoon sergeant to straighten out the smart-arses?)