“I have been in a nightmare for the past 10 years, locked into a wrong idea about my business for all this time”

Discover the secret of Serious Creativity and escape the nightmares of repetition

I was in the Thalys on my way to Paris, sitting next to this good-looking young man with whom I had just started a conversation.

“What are you doing professionally?”, I asked.

He explained that he had invented a kind of “bumper car” that goes on water.

Being a specialist in strategic and creative Thinking, I immediately thought that it might very well be a useless idea.

But I figured that this young man and I would be traveling for an hour and 17 minutes sitting next to each other, and that I wasn't going to give him a hard time with my critical remarks.

So, I asked politely: “What is this invention for?” and he answered that it was a sort of leisure artefact that could amuse people.

I asked:“Who does it sell to?”

Him: “It sells to hotels”

Me : “Does it sell well?”

Him : “No”

At that point, we shifted our conversation on him.

I discovered he was an engineer and that he created his business 10 years ago.Based on his “Aquatic Bumper Car”, his big Dream was to create an industrial ecosystem in his home region.

His eyes look a bit sad while he was telling me his story of an unaccomplished dream.

I also I learned he had a boy, Benjamin, whom he was really proud of.

Then, this young man asked me what I was doing for a living.

I told him: “I am helping purpose-driven decision-makers to get out of their mental boxes and completely reinvent what their company is and offers to the world.This helps them make desirable futures visible and actionable. I also give a course on Creative Thinking at the University”.

At that moment, his face opened wide in surprise, and he asked me: “Is creative thinking something that can be taught?”

I said“Yes, of course” and I noticed he was beginning to salivate with envy.

He said:“Really? and how do you do that?”?

I said, maintaining a certain suspense: “There are a few secrets to really free the mind. And some tools to learn and practice”

“Secrets?”he asked me, increasingly curious.


“For example?”

Then, smiling inwardly, I said to myself, “Great, I'll show him one”.

I asked him if he had a sheet of paper and a pencil that he got out of his bag.

I then asked him “Please draw a white square. I'm going to ask you an extremely simple question- this is not an intelligence test, don’t put pressure on yourself. The question is : could you give me as many possibilities as you can to divide this square in 4 parts that are equal in shape and surface?”

He started immediately and came out with 2 of the most “obvious solutions”.

Then he said: “I could make the cross rotate but…no, I don’t see anything else. I am stuck”.

So, I asked: “What would your son Benjamin do?”

And there, this young man said: “Oh! Benjamin, he would do this”.

And going as fast as he could, he drew these solutions.

So I said to him: “Marvelous! How would he do that?”

“Because he is free”

“But you are too, look at what you just did! It just seems you need to rationally understand how you do that”

And I told him the secret.

“The first two obvious solutions that come to mind – a cross in the square – are “ideas”, concrete solutions we can put in action.

Then, take the“Altitude Attitude”

If you move up to the abstract level, you can see the concept: imagine the square has a center and you just rotate the cross within the square around the center. That gives you thousands of new concrete possibilities.

And then, look at the other two most obvious ideas: dividing the square with 4 vertical or horizontal lines. If again, you move up to the conceptual level, you can identify the concept: divide the square in half, then divide each half in half again. And that opens up an infinity of new solutions.

This is the secret: the essence of Serious Creativity is in the movement from ideas to concepts, then from concepts to new ideas.

If we don’t know that secret, we are stuck into the 4 obvious solutions that everybody sees.

That is the nightmare.

Concepts are what give us flexibility. We might be stuck with a bad idea for years without seeing the concept behind it, although the concept may be good. So, moving up might allow us to see it and find many alternative ways to implement it.

You see, this movement from ideas to concepts allows to move from Action to Vision and from Vision to Action. 

I concluded by quoting him:

Vision without Action is an awaken dream. But Action without Vision is a Nightmare

That's when he said: “I have been in a nightmare for the past 10 years, locked into a wrong idea about my business”.

We both stood in silence for a minute, very moved and with tears in our eyes.

And then we extracted the concepts behind his “aquatic bumper car” and we moved to other possible applications such as an upgradable and super flexible electric vehicle to move on ice and save people in difficult situation. This was very enjoyable!

After we got out of the train, he followed me in the subway and said: “Do you think it will work if I share that with my associates?” And with eyes shining like his son Benjamin’s eyes would, he said: “It is already working in fact! It already works”.

Direction comes from the "Altitude Attitude".

Enjoy the Vision toAction Elevator


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