Lessons Learned: Size 12 Tennis Shoes & Normalcy Bias

note: originally written/posted in 2015

As I have already mentioned in a number of articles, especially the boot review articles, I have feet that are pretty beat up. That being the case, shoes and boots that actually fit me correctly and are comfortable are virtually impossible to find. When I do find a pair that fit me I stick with that brand and model, sometimes buying multiple pairs to last me into the future. Well, this year Normalcy Bias struck…along with a little Competency Bias. And it all has to do with a size 12 pair of tennis shoes. Let me explain…





First, let’s review what Normalcy Bias is the refusal of your brain to accept that something has happened, will happen, or to what extent something has happened.


Now let’s tie those two bias’ into my size 12 tennis shoes…no pun intended. OK, so you know it is hard for me to buy decent boots and shoes due to years of abuse of my feet as a structural and wildland firefighter. Fortunately a couple of years ago I found a brand of tennis shoes that really fit my feet very well. They last about 18 months before they have to be replaced. Late last year I was seeing that my latest pair was needing replaced soon, luckily I found some for sale online. I bought three pairs to make it easier in the future, plus I had a little extra money sitting around. No, I can’t buy them in any store anymore because they aren’t carried in any store anywhere that I can find.

So my old pair finally give it up and I get out a new pair. Problem!!

The new pair seem to be too tight and really kind of crushed my foot. So I wore them a day thinking that it was a fluke or something. It wasn’t. I got the other two pairs out, all the same size, all the same fit. I wasn’t thrilled but I knew that they were the right size since they were the same exact size as the old pair’s size. The label told me so.

At that point I figured I would keep wearing them and they would stretch out and fit as good as the old pair. Well, they didn’t and seven months later my feet are still sore after my physical training that I try to do 5 – 6 times a week for at least an hour each day.

Well, I bought a pair of Lowa Tibet GTX boots and I did a review on them. I am also still in the process of breaking them in. One night after hiking about an hour in the arroyo behind my house that stretches into the desert I was taking those boots off and switching to my size 12 tennis shoes. My feet hurt in that same places in my “broken-in” my Feet are sore and are killing metennis shoes. Ooooppppssssss……something wrong here! And my toes were way further into the tennis shoes than my boots.

Changes had to take place…my feet were killing me.

I went into my home office, got online, looked up the tennis shoes in size 13, found several pairs, and ordered a pair in my favorite color combination. Yup, couple different shades of khaki. Two days later the shoes were on my door step, I was smiling and my wife thought I was a little more weird than normal. Shorten the story…the shoes fit really, really well.

So why the heck is that little experience worthy of an article?

Oh, come on…you can’t figure it out yet?

I wear a size 12 shoe, albeit extra wide, and these tennis shoes in size 12W had always fit in the past, so the current size 12W should fit. And If they are tight, I should just get over it and wait for them to stretch out to the right size/fit. Right?  Why?

However, seven months later the new size 12W tennis shoes still weren’t fitting right/comfortable and that is after well over 150 hours of “breaking in.” You would think the thought would have crossed my mind that something was just a bit wrong. Yeah, well it should have. But I was suffering from Normalcy Bias.

Me?!?! Yeah, me. I am supposed to know what I am talking about when it comes to preparedness. I am supposed to be that guy that has answers and can help other people avoid those things that will get them hurt or killed. Yet, I failed and I failed on one of the most basic tenants of preparedness…Normalcy Bias.

Tunnel Vision is a result of normalcy biasYup, I got tunnel vision:

  1. This is the size shoe I always wear, so this pair of shoes it the right size.
  2. All shoes take breaking in, so these shoes will fit when they are broken in.
  3. You have bad feet, your feet are supposed to hurt.
  4. You have more important things to think about.

And we know what tunnel vision can do…it can get you killed.

Now the real question is what do I do about this problem. And for me there is only one real answer. Well, two actually.

First, I have to write to you about it and explain how easy Normalcy Bias can creep into your life. Even something so simple as the correct size and fit of tennis shoes. If it isn’t right…figure it out and make it right. If it doesn’t work, it isn’t going to magically start working.

Second, I have to take a deep breath and look over the rest of what is going on in my life right now. And ask the question…What else am I missing? I am working on that one right now.

Why the reevaluation of life?

Think about that for a minute. If you have been reading my website articles for any length of time you have a pretty good feel for the type of person I am. What do you think I could be missing?

See, here is the problem…I am in a position of not knowing what I don’t know.

So I have to step back, collect myself and rapidly assess if there are the other areas that I might be off course. That is making “lemonade out of lemons” as a famous fellow once told me.

Does any of this have anything to do with you? Maybe, maybe not.

eliminate Normalcy biasThis is a glaring example of Normalcy Bias that I got struck with. What I am hoping is that you learned something through this…it can happen to anyone.

Now, my question to you…”Are you suffering from Normalcy Bias in some way, in some area of your prepping life?”

Please take a few minutes in the coming day or two and just think through what is happening in your life and consider if you might have some amount of Normalcy Bias going on. And if you do…work at overcoming it.





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