Just Enough Slip

After Munich was covered in 50 centimeters of snow within as many hours, all Google Maps predictions were off: The tram, bus, and subway connections it suggested weren’t running, and both the frozen streets and walking routes would take twice as long.

What the two remaining modes of transportation had in common, however, was that both required just enough slip. It’s natural to watch every step when you’re walking on ice, but actually, as I would discover over the following days, striding somewhat confidently while allowing a little bit of wiggle room increases your speed without making it much more likely you’ll fall. Your body can handle tiny skids here and there — it just won’t let it slide (pun intended) when you lose control of one foot completely.

Similarly, cars have traction control systems for a reason: You don’t want to screech across the bend into the nearest lamp post, but you also need a little bit of slip to get going from a standstill. Since almost all cars have traction control these days, you can drive on ice and — with more caution — still reach your destination.

Our natural tendency is to want to eliminate room for error entirely, but even if that was possible, often, it would not be the best condition for optimal performance. Don’t run blindly into a minefield, but remember: Just enough slip is better than none, and sliding can be faster than walking as long as you don’t fall.