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Life lessons from Driver’s Ed?

For those of you who took a Driver’s Education class, you probably remember a few things.  Lame highway safety movies, or the gross-out versions of those movies, depending on your teacher.

In my case, the teacher was an idiot.  May still be, I have no idea.  I do know he was a lousy football coach and, in my opinion, a lousy human being.  I really didn’t learn much from him, but I did from the materials in the class.

And two key phrases have resonated with me since the fall of 1985.

First, is “keep your eyes moving.”  That plays in to my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder tendancies anyway.  But for those who are NOT ADHD, it is good advice to follow as it can keep you out of various levels of trouble. 

Simply put, but keeping your head up and eyes moving you have a greater understanding of your surroundings.  One of the problems that I had before grasping this concept was to hunch over and look down a lot.  I blamed it on being tall and somewhat shy.  Now, I credit it with giving me an acute sense of what is physically happening around me.  Others say it is what leads to my distractions.  Both have some validity.

The other lesson that you can pickup from a Driver’s Education book or defensive driving class is to “leave yourself an out.”  That ties into the keeping your eyes moving part of the physical world.  If you are not looking around, you cannot find your physical out.  That is why “tailgating” is so dangerous.  No matter how good your reactions may be, you are depending on others to match your physical attributes.  Often, they do not have your level and that is when a wreck that could have been avoided becomes a multi-vehicle mess.

But I am not necessarily referring to just the physical world. 

I had a conversation yesterday about a great practice for those in sales and customer service.  And that ties to the old adage of “under promise and over deliver” many have repeated.  That is another example of leaving yourself an out.  The out being time. 

You know that it normally takes two weeks for a product or project or whatever to be delivered or completed.  If you promise two weeks and you have ONE minor hiccup, you fail.  Double that time and come-in early, you become competent.  Maybe even a hero.

So, here is what I am doing today.  I have a 10:30 appointment in Columbia, Missouri, today.  It takes 45 minutes to get where I need to be.  I am giving myself an hour to make it there.  [Leaving myself an out....the padded time.]  As a Chamber of Commerce Ambassador, I have a personal goal of making 75 percent of the ribbon cuttings and other events.  Today, I knew that I could not make it back, so I let everyone know in advance.  So, if things change and I make it, I left myself the out but still delivered.

Keeping my eyes moving.  Besides watching things as I drive, I do have a dual monitor setup on my work computer.  I can have my e-mail up on one screen while I do other work on the second screen.  I also have a window from my office to the front room, so that I can see who walks in when they walk in.  When I meet someone in a public place, like a coffee shop or restaurant, I arrive early and select a seat that allows me to have a better view of the room.  That way I can stand up and greet the others before they walk up on me.  Some may think it is a power play, but is really establishing my own comfort.

So, what do YOU think?

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