Every Day is a Learning Opportunity

Whew! I just got home from a two-week trip that had me in 7 cities. I watched a race driver I’ve been coaching since he was 13 compete in a NASCAR race at Daytona; talked to three different car marque clubs (two BMW club chapters, and one Porsche club); coached a high-level race driver; trained four engineers from Honda; and spoke at a safety meeting for a large corporation about their fleet driver training. My stops were in Daytona, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; Newark, New Jersey; Long Island, New York; Homestead, Florida; and Houston, Texas; from 25 degrees and 6 inches of snow in New Jersey to 85 degrees in Homestead. One day I’d be speaking to and training about 100 people, and the next I’d be working one-on-one with a driver…

Whew! I just got home from a two-week trip that had me in 7 cities. I watched a race driver I’ve been coaching since he was 13 compete in a NASCAR race at Daytona; talked to three different car marque clubs (two BMW club chapters, and one Porsche club); coached a high-level race driver; trained four engineers from Honda; and spoke at a safety meeting for a large corporation about their fleet driver training. My stops were in Daytona, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Danville, Virginia; Newark, New Jersey; Long Island, New York; Homestead, Florida; and Houston, Texas; from 25 degrees and 6 inches of snow in New Jersey to 85 degrees in Homestead. One day I’d be speaking to and training about 100 people, and the next I’d be working one-on-one with a driver.

Oh, and all this was just a few days after doing a presentation for a little over 100 senior managers, from all over North America, from Nokia Siemens Networks.

While all but the Nokia session were related to driving in some form, every person I spoke to had one thing in common: they wanted to improve their performance by learning more. The people from the corporation I spoke to wanted to help all of their employees who drive as part of the job to drive more safely, and have fewer driving incidents. Consider that the average on-the-job collision costs an organization $16,000 in direct and indirect costs; the costs rise to $74,000 if someone is injured; and over $500,000 if there is a death. Obviously, there are strong financial incentives, but more and more companies are committed to helping their employees stay safe for more than the dollars saved – it’s just the right thing to do to look after your people. (go to www.swervefleet.com for more info)

Honda engineers test drive their work. Before they make any change, update, improvement, or new design, it has been tested in some pretty extreme driving conditions. There are some auto manufacturers who question why any company would train their engineers to drive better so they can test their cars better – they don’t see the value in this investment. I won’t say which company thinks Honda is wrong, but I will hint that this company is losing billions of dollars, while Honda is profitable. So, which company has the flawed thinking?

Many people would be amazed at the number of car clubs in this country, and the number of members in these clubs who consider driving to be a sport. No, these are not race drivers; they are “performance drivers.” Their focus is on improving their performance behind the wheel. That performance could be in driving smoother and more in control, it could be performing at their best when faced with an emergency, or it could be performing well while driving their cars on a track. Ultimately though, they want to be better drivers and appreciate their cars more. In doing that, they are some of the safest and most responsible drivers on our roadways.

Race drivers? They are all about maximizing their performance, and they will go to great lengths to do so – even to the point of flying me to the other side of the country to “tune” their minds. Sure, there are times I actually teach a driver a skill or technique, but most of the time when working with drivers at this level, I simply work on bringing out every last ounce of the skills, techniques and talent they have. And that mostly comes from ensuring their minds are turned on and performing at their best. No different than when working with an athlete in any sport, or a business manager.

These people have more in common than most realize. They all want to learn, and they all want to improve their performance. Fortunately for me, I get to help them achieve these goals – and learn more myself. I can’t wait to see what next week brings… or where I’ll be.

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