Scenario 1. I’m going mountain biking. I’m going straight from my house about 6 miles to the local forest where I’ll find miles and miles of woodland trails. I’ve been there many times before and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t had a puncture in the last 500 miles of biking and given that the terrain is pretty easy, I decide not to bring a puncture repair kit. I’ve never needed it in this place before so why should that change? It will come as no surprise to you that at the furthest point from my house (about 15 miles) I get a puncture and my riding partner has to go all the way back home, get the car and come pick me up.
Scenario 2. Bond has been given an assignment. It’s not well specced out and he’s pretty much playing it by ear. Q, his gadget supplier, gives him a rather swish Rolex that also has a dart gun at the clasp of the strap that can fire exploding rounds, amongst other things. You wouldn’t think that he’d find much of a use for it given that he carries a Walther PPK handgun that can do all the damage he wants. But Bond finds himself strapped to a chair spinning at a surprisingly high velocity – his death is imminent. But, aha! He remembers the watch and fires a bullet from it that breaks the machine and stops the spinning just in the nick of time.
Scenario 3. I’m in Glencoe. The sun is shining and it is a beautiful day to be alive. I’m there with my friend and we’ve just had a weekend’s quality hiking. It’s our last day and we decide to take a wander up to the “Lost Valley” which is a valley hidden between two mountains that used to be used to hide cattle in the old Clan days. It’s about an hour’s short walk from the car and as the sun is shining I decide to leave my Gore-Tex jacket in the car. We walk up the side of the hill and cross a small stream. Of course as soon as we reach our destination the heavens open and there is a huge deluge. By the time we return to that stream it is now a waist deep torrent. I got piss wet through, and I was shaking for half an hour after we got back to the car.
Scenario 4. Bond is in the Caribbean and he’s scoping out his latest super-villain. Q catches up with him and happens to give him a mini-re-breather that allows him to breathe under water for about 4-5 minutes. When’s he going to need that? I can hold my breath for a couple of minutes and if he’s going to be under for longer than that he’s going to need some proper scuba gear. But he just so happens to get thrown into a shark-infested pool that has the top closed over. No escape, he’ll drown for sure. But then he remembers the breathing kit, gets it out and calmly swims to freedom. Rule Britannia!
You may have detected a pattern here. In a Bond film, he gets a different bunch of gadgets each time but he always finds himself in a situation where only those specific gadgets will get him out alive. If he got a hand full of kit that he never needed it would look a bit stupid him carrying it around in a rucksack for the whole film. But in the real world he’d be screwed. He’d either be screwed because he hardly ever had the right tool for the job or he’d have a knackered back from carrying everything including the kitchen sink around all over the place.
While I’ve made numerous mistakes so far in terms of seeing the future and bringing something I’m going to need, I have a simple strategy that gets me through most situations, although it doesn’t get me the slick moves of Bond. My strategy is this: whenever I get a voice in my head saying “maybe I should bring this” or, more generally “maybe I should do that” and I’m not sure either way, I always do it. Even though I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do at the time, I recognise my own indecisiveness in action and say yes.
Try it. It’s playing the percentages and on balance you should win out at the end of the day. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to watch where Bond gets to use his latest high-tech gizmo on that nasty media mogul bad guy…