Highs and Lows

Owning Success and Dealing With Setbacks


As You Learn to Drive, There Will Be Triumphs, and There Will Be Total Downers.

How you deal with these will have an impact on your driving; not just now, when you’re learning, but further down the line, when you’re out there on your own. Use the ups and downs to think about how you will deal with stuff on the road when you don’t have your On Fire instructor beside you, with the dual controls and the advice and t’ing.

We find the forward-facing video camera very helpful, especially as you move toward test standard. You can watch your drive back over on your PC/tablet, enjoy your triumphs, and think, in a balanced manner, about how to improve the whoopsies.

You do something really rather clever, and you’re on a high; that ‘I’m on my way!’ feeling. After two subsequent iffy lessons running, do you wanna give it all up? (Halfway down the M1, after a couple of poor judgements, you can’t abandon your life, the car and the passengers on the hard shoulder to go be a free-range chicken farmer (apparently quite relaxing). Soz.)

There may be times when you truly spring forward, and then, frustratingly, drop back again. Remember here, the old martial arts saying, that such setbacks are like a bowstring being drawn. The initial movement is backward, but this very movement provides the power to fire the arrow forward.

Do you lose your temper quickly with inattentive drivers? (Perhaps … certainly your attention will be distracted one day when you have your licence.) Use your learning time to channel the energy you’re using being irritated into your own driving; the only control you have over what happens on the road is what you do. How loudly you can shout at numpties will make no difference to anything, and your anger is counter-productive; you’re far more likely to make a mistake yourself if you’re fuming at someone long since gone.

Cultivate a sense of humour about driving (we’re quite good at that, here at On Fire ;-) ). Or simply train yourself to be philosophical about the human race in general; sigh deeply, and comfort yourself that your positive contribution to the road is one less negative.

Are you crushed when you make a gross mistake during an otherwise smooth lesson? (Even experienced drivers make boo-boos, but they don’t let it shatter their confidence in their ability.) Rather than go, ‘OMG, I’m totally inconsistent and hopeless – I’m never gonna pass my Test.’ use the mistake as a learning point: ‘How could I have done things differently before, during or after, to do this well?’ ‘How could I approach the problem in different ways?’ ‘Did my mood, or simply lack of practice at a particular skill, cause the mistake?’.

As mentioned elsewhere, our Minds, useful in their way, have an unfortunate tendency to focus on the negative, and trash 59 minutes of lovely driving with a mistake that probably took less than a minute. Take charge of your Mind, just as you take charge of the car, and think about all the good stuff you did. Mistakes can be fixed with training; your mind-set is down to you!

We’ve found the video method, as mentioned above, is really good at helping your Mind get a sense of perspective on mistakes.

Is each lesson an opportunity to show off and explore your skills, and then your Instructor grabs the wheel ‘cos you’ve taken a blind bend too fast with oncoming, making you feel 1cm tall? (Everyone is tempted to show off a little, because controlling a car is a Big Ass Skill. But we’re all human, even you. You’re not an expert yet.)

The road can be a great teacher of humility, and the latter is as important as confidence, especially as you move towards Test. You don’t know how to deal with every situation; even expert drivers come across things that flummox them. That’s why they’re experts – they put aside their ego, and let the road teach them. So the old saying of, ‘Don’t run before you can walk.’, applies. Deal with your daftness, and move on.)

Our Point Here, Of Course

is that learning to drive isn’t just about memorising the Highway Code ‘n’ whatnot, and getting the machine round the next corner; it’s as much about understanding your own character, your emotional states, and how you deal with a rapidly-changing environment. Your strengths, and weaknesses, will be highlighted in the white light of the road – far better to explore these in the safe hands of your On Fire Instructor, than have hysterics on the M1 and become a chicken farmer in Chickenshire. Thingyshire. Whatever.

The On Fire for Driving Team