Practice the skills to get you there..

by Mark Zaugg 10. December 2011 14:40

Look where you want to go.  We've established it as a good idea for driving and a good idea for life.

For all the looking you do, it will not be helpful unless you have the skills to take you where you're looking.

Canada's Worst Drivers regularly smash into obstacles in front, behind, and to the left and right of themselves.  Sometimes the show gets criticized for putting the drivers into an impossible situation that is far and beyond the capabilities of a typical driver.

How often do you think of yourself in a situation you feel you can't get out of?  How often do you worry about being stuck in an impossible scenario with no solutions in sight?

During the show, we occasionally hear the bad drivers say that the lane is too narrow, there's just not enough space to drive safely, it's too tight to turn around.  The beauty of the show is that Andrew Younghusband drives each challenge first to prove that it can be done, but also that it's just a condition that any driver may find themselves in while driving.  When you're driving in the real world, you don't always have the choice of just pulling over and quitting.  You're going to have to drive and adapt to the circumstances on the road at any particular moment.

During the show, I just wish that some of the drivers would stop the car, walk around it and look at the obstacles, think about the best way to escape the allegedly impossible scenario.  Rather than sit in the car and frustratingly struggle for an hour, if they'd think about it for an hour and perhaps come up with a way out it may happen safely and smoothly when they succeed.

Oh, but don't I just know what it's like to sit behind the wheel and feel there is no way out at all.  The frustration and desperation of being willing to try anything to escape masks the better solution of analysis and figuring out what gives the best chance of success.

That really is the best approach, though.  Take the time to figure out your situation.  Make a plan.  Follow through with your plan.  Analyze your results, think about what happened and how to apply it the next time around.

So those impossible courses and scenarios the Canada's Worst Driver team sets up:  Remember that they're done in a safe environment with trained professionals to both teach the drivers and keep them safe.  You and me on the real roads, we don't have that luxury.  We don't want to get in over our heads and have to struggle to get out of a bad situation.  Instead, we need to learn early and often.  Every moment you get behind the wheel of a car, you should be thinking about what you're learning about how to control a vehicle better.

Your driving today is teaching you more skills that will serve you tomorrow.

We know this, it's obvious!  As we get more experienced, our insurance goes down.  Teen aged drivers have a terrible record that we expect to improve over the years.  The best drivers tend to be the people who are driving the most.

We know we can't stop.  As we get older our reaction times increase while our vision and strength decrease.  We need those better driving skills for when our bodies start to let us down.

Move it from the background of your driving to the foreground.  We don't have a Canada's Worst Driver Wonderland where we get to practise our skills.  But we do get a chance to improve our driving each and every time we get behind the wheel.  Put that into the forefront of your driving and intentionally think about how your driving can improve when you're behind the wheel.

And if "Look where you want to go" is an analogy for life, isn't this entire entry an analogy about how we ought to live?

Where are you looking?

by Mark Zaugg 7. December 2011 20:33

When you are driving safely, you are looking to where you want to go.

You should not look just in front of your vehicle.  Surely you want to go farther than the 20 or 30 feet ahead of you.  The faster you travel, the further you have to look ahead.  You need more time to accumulate data and you require time to process that data into good decision making.

Nor should you be fixating on your final destination.  It may not even be in sight.  You can't even focus entirely on a spot a full kilometre down the road - that's foolhardy when a hazard could be just ahead of you.

You cannot be locked into tunnel vision, staring solely ahead.  Hazards may exist in the ditches or coming out of alleys at the side of the road.  Nor can you neglect your mirrors for hazards racing up behind you.

"Look where you want to go" still holds as the primary rule of safe driving.  But it's not an absolute rule.  You need to take in data such as your speed, your direction, road signs, other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists -- the sum of your environment.

"Look where you want to go" as a life's lesson is much the same.  Recently I got all hell bent for leather on a course of action, however lunch with a friend suddenly snapped into place that I haven't finished driving my current road yet and there is much for me to do before I'm ready to switch life's highways.

When you're driving, it should be somewhat obvious where you are heading.  More or less in front of you, far enough ahead to spot obstacles and hazards, not so far ahead that you are oblivious to things that are near you.  Setting your goals and choosing one's path through life is less clear cut.  There are many directions you can choose and many goals you can set for yourself.

The choice made should, in my mind, still be somewhat obvious.  Your destination as a person needs to begin from your values.  Everyone's core values are serious, personal and valuable beyond counting.  You need to consider what your values are and how they impact you as a person.  Although I have a good standing on what my personal cornerstones are, it's clear that I can lose my focus and forget the things I most want to accomplish.  Lose that focus and it becomes much harder to achieve your goals.

Let me tie my thoughts into a circle.  If you truly value all life on earth, you must do what you can to care for life and ensure life is not taken without good cause.  Unless you are a plant or a bacterium, we must continue our existence by sacrificing life for our own sustenance, but life is not to be taken carelessly.  When that's your primary value, you ought to be driving carefully, applying what you know about safe driving each and every time you get behind the wheel.  Look where you want to go.  Travel with confidence.  Stay calm when things don't smoothly go your way.  Tenaciously practice and improve your skills and abilities.  Never stop learning.

I wouldn't consider telling you what your core values ought to be, but I highly encourage you to think about your core values and your goals and how you intend to achieve your goals while staying true to your values.

I can't help someone else until I've prepared myself.  My drive right now has to be to improve myself, but also value a bigger role which awaits me and need to simultaneously prepare myself.  I have to remain true to my cornerstones or risk losing my values.  I have to care for my health, my teeth and my jaw -- the choices over how I get there are fast becoming interesting and compelling.

In the end, you need to ultimately decide for yourself which route you shall take.  We all face the choice of Robert Frost, and regardless of the road taken our choice shall make all the difference.

How in the hell do I define this?

by Mark Zaugg 22. June 2011 23:47

They're out there.


You're out there.


You've surrounded me.  Even those of you who don't know you're doing it, you're there.


I explained a bit about Group before.  The real accomplishment was sharing the tiny gems of stories, getting the little tidbits of wisdom out.  The tiny lessons that give you coping skills and the power to change bad choices for good ones.  Tonight the futility I've been feeling was understood, explained, and banished through the explanation of where I'm going, of who I'm becoming.  Tidbits about myself, but about the greater of the role I'm trying to achieve for myself, tidbits about society and humanity that I'm creating.  An understanding of the flailing I've been doing and why it's so intensely necessary.  All of the people who have been positiveiy influencing me, you're part of what's changing around me.


I know a levee has burst.  I'm not sure what it was holding back.  I do know that something has washed over me and swept me away.  I see me, myself, standing at the headwaters, firm and steadfast in my footing.  There is no reward, there is no end, there is only my strength, my knowledge, and you - the people who are standing with me.


Too cryptic?  Perhaps, but I don't have a full handle on everything that's happening yet.  I know that I'm iron and resolute.  I know I'm capable and willing to give my best.  I know that I'm stepping to the forefront and I will not silently await my fate.  I know that my creativity has been respawned into something that's useful precisely at the time when I need it.  I know that for the first time in my life I'm tying together career and dreams and failed accomplishments and my morality and values into something that is...


The man I choose to be.


I told you in the title this is hard to define.  Well, rather than trying to guide you step by step, let me give out one of those little tidbits I got today.  A friend from twitter sent out:


Some people are just worth having in your life...


Yes.  The people who influence me are worth having in my life.  Even the smallest of details that make me better as a person has the greatest of value.  Together we are creating a community for the betterment of humanity, so long as we can be prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead.  I've been given a gift.  You are part of it.


I didn't say it was going to be easy.  It will be a lot of hard work, grinding effort, dismal disappointment and soul-grinding rejection.  In the end it will be worth it because I will have achieved my goal of making something better.


Now I need to go fill my potential and meet the challenge.  Study time.


Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.


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