An Oxford University student sits in a grand wood-paneled room waiting for his final year psychology exam to begin.
The don checks his watch then instructs the students to commence. The grad turns the page and reads the question: What is bravery?
He rocks back on his chair for a moment contemplating the question, then leans in to scribble something down, stands, and as his classmates stare in disbelief, walks from the hall.
The don walks over to his desk and picks up the paper. Beneath the question he'd written: "This is."
In sports, coaches train players to avoid paralysis by analysis. When athletes think too much it negatively affects their performance. They think too much, they choke. It's best they just get out there and play the game without thinking themselves into a hole.
Unfortunately paralysis by analysis is widespread among brands and their ad agencies. Demand for consistently favorable quarterly earnings forecasts, focus groups, a heavy-handed FCC, and gun-shy network censors have forced both clients and their agencies to become ever more risk-averse, but therein lies the paradox: at a time when ad-avoidance by consumers is at an all time high, brands need to be buying more breakthrough work, not less.
And just in case we've all forgotten what bravery looks like, it's here in the face of Mexican revolutionary Fortino Samano moments before his death by firing squad in 1917.
His very last word on this planet: "¡fuego!"