burnt popcorn and flight simulator

Years ago, my friend and I were hanging out at his house after school. His mom was gone, and we decided to make microwave popcorn. We were busy playing Flight Simulator, so he ducked out and threw it in the microwave.

It didn’t take us long to lose ourselves in what we were doing. The next thing we knew, the smell of burnt popcorn filled the house. He leapt from his chair and dashed for the microwave. He threw the bag in the trash and made a few attempts at clearing the air.

Minutes later, we heard his mom pull into the driveway. She burst through the door, asking, “What happened?!” She had smelled the burnt popcorn from outside the house…and needless to say, it wasn’t the welcome she’d been expecting, lol.

Despite our horrible culinary skills… I loved playing Flight Simulator. I loved the fact that you could put yourself into a world, see what it was like, hone your skills, and test the consequences.

I was also fascinated by the multi-axis input of a joystick—I knew a lot was happening under the hood. Fast forward nearly 30 years… I realized I use these same simulator skills in my consulting.

Jump into a world. Take a 360-degree look around. Simulate different situations, paths, and approaches. Find the one with the best outcome and least downside. Then… Jump back out and make a recommendation. And I try to avoid burning the popcorn or scaring the mom while I do that, lol.

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