Of Mice and Men

I got back to Schiphol for my 7.00 flight at 4.00 on Friday afternoon with my colleague David and we went our separate ways to check-in; me with BA and him with EasyJet.

I’d looked at the prices for EasyJet but after baggage was included there was only a £10 difference in cost. However two other big advantages were soon to be made aware to me.

I’d checked-in the night before on the BA app on my phone so all I had to do was go to baggage drop to get my case into the system. There was one person in front of me and in 30 seconds I was at the desk and my case was gone, into the bowels of the handling system.

I’d arranged to meet up with David so we could go for a well-deserved drink at the end of a very successful week. As I got closer to the EasyJet check-in desk after a 5 minute walk, it was clear that the queue was enormous.

David was in the priority lane queue and had still not yet been able to get served and there were two of the delegates who’d left an hour earlier than David and I still queueing. Benefit number one.

Suddenly it was David’s turn and he walked up to the desk. A minute later he was back, with his case. He couldn’t check-in until 5.45, two hours before his flight. At which point Andy, another of the delegates from the week turned up with his bags in tow. He had the same problem. Benefit number two.

We set off for the bar, me light weight with only my laptop case on my shoulder and feeling rather smug and David and Andy with all their bags to be looked after.

Soon we were settled with two beers and a glass of red wine ordered and the conversation turned to many different things.

Andy was kind enough to say how much he’d learned on the course and then we were talking about country pursuits as both he and David were brought up in rural towns.

It was a really great conversation as we all relaxed in each other’s company, enjoying the trust that had built up over three modules of training spanning the last six months.

David disappeared to the loo and Andy and I got on to the subject of the stupid decisions we make when we are kids; not because we are stupid but because we don’t know any better at the time. As we shared stories they became more personal, as we trusted each other with more little secrets and I was really taken with the openness that had developed between us.

Too soon the moment was over as David returned and Andy had to go to the EasyJet desk, as his two hour window to check-in had now arrived. Now it was my turn to say goodbye as I still had to get through passport control and I knew from past experience that it could take a long time.

The walk to the departure gate at Schiphol takes about 12 minutes at a good pace and with nimbleness of feet as you navigate the myriads of tourists ambling along seemingly with no concern about where they are walking; and certainly with no interest in walking in a straight line.

I love the departure areas they have been designed to be as comfortable as possible and I walked to the end, where, there were half a dozen black leather recliners looking out of the massive glass wall to the runways, and you could watch the world’s airlines coming into land.

The area was deserted but as I got closer to the recliners I noticed I had company. A large mouse (definitely not a rat) was scurrying around underneath them.

It seemed curiously out of place in the chromium shiny space and as it heard me approaching it dashed to the safety of cover and was gone.

Curious as to how it had got in I looked for holes in the floors and walls but could see nothing, so I settled into one of the recliners until my boarding time arrived.

As I lay there my mind was soon full of thoughts. A lot about the past week but many were random, not connected to anything in particular and I found myself wondering where they had come from. Like the mouse they seemed to come from and disappear into nowhere.

My latest reading is Your Brain at Work by David Rock. It’s about the way your brain either helps or hinders your effectiveness at work and dealing with “thoughtmice” (my term not his) is one of the main themes of the book.

Sometimes we need our minds to be filled with thoughts and ideas so we can solve problems and sometimes we need to have peaceful quiet minds so we do not get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of work we have to do.

The trouble is our brain is not very good at getting the mix right.


Dean Stuart's SignatureDene Stuart
Chief Thinking Officer


Dene is a qualified practitioner in Personality Profiling and Emotional Intelligence and has delivered training in these areas to hundreds of people in one to one coaching programmes, workshops and talks to business groups and students. He has twenty years experience in high pressure senior corporate roles and has started, developed and closed several businesses. He has enjoyed significant success, and has come through personal and business failure.