Okay, I admit it. I’m a car snob. The genetic makeup of a boy born in Motor City is influenced into the sixth generation by the sound of a fine tuned exhaust, the whine of the turbo-charger and the smell of a little rubber left on the asphalt for posterity. However, you can be a gear head without becoming a car snob. Hi, I’m Larry. I’m a car snob.
Audi’s are my favorite and have been for many years. German engineering may have reached the pinnacle in the Audi line and it just keeps getting better. Imagine my absolute delight a few years ago enjoying the Audi Experience on a private race course in Illinois learning how to take these beautiful creations to the maximum performance possible. (My performance maximum, not theirs. I couldn’t come close to taking them to the level of speed and agility they are engineered and manufactured to deliver.) My favorite at the moment: the S5 Cabriolet. The sound, the smell, the feel of your spine against the rear bumper as you try to hang on to the steering wheel at the same time is a transcendent experience. With the roof off, it becomes transforming. All right, all right, auto enthusiasts are prone to exaggeration. (But so are golfers, fishermen and preachers.) Let me simply say, “What a sweet ride.”
Back to the driving experience. It’s bit daunting to be handed a crash helmet before getting behind the wheel of a car you are going be taught to drive by a professional race car driver. These people are serious. The day began with a lecture on the physics of acceleration, cornering and de-accelaration, pretty essential items for someone who is about to drive in excess of 100 miles per hour . . . legally. But before the road course we had to test our metal on more basic driving skills. Like, stopping. Sounds simple, but the test was to determine how quickly you can react to bring the car to a stop after full throttle acceleration and only braking when instructed to do so. With the instructor seated beside you, performance anxiety settles in pretty quickly.
Next, we were taught how to avoid obstacles in our path. Short version: don’t look at them. That’s right don’t look at the thing you don’t want to hit. Your brain is revolting right now and for good reason. How can we avoid hitting something if we can’t look at it? The professionals taught us that looking at something at high speed is the surest way to hit it. Is it sinking in yet? You drive where you are looking. The car goes toward what your eyes see. Your hands respond to what your vision focuses on (at nanoseconds of time).
Give up? Not if you want to avoid hitting the thing you want to miss. Instead, look into the path you want to travel. Aim for the space, not the pylon. Looking at the pylon as you attempt to maneuver into the empty space will inevitably send the orange cone flying into the air.
Does the application begin to resonate? How many of our strategic decisions are based on negative focus? If we want to avoid an unpleasant outcome, how much energy do we expend focusing on it. Not only does fear paralyze at the limbic level of the brain, it also focuses higher executive thought on the inevitability of the outcome we seek to avoid.
How many times do we make decisions based on the negative force of the event or condition we seek to avoid? Ever decided to leave a job because it was unpleasant, unfulfilling or simply toxic? Most people leave employment because of a bad boss, not a bad job. Ever leave a family of faith (church, temple, synagogue) because of bad leadership? Ever left a relationship because of a toxic partner? In these instances, how pleasant was the landing? Rebound relationships are notoriously unwise.
If we make decisions on the basis of negative motivation, we are likely to end up far closer to the trait, condition, circumstance or difficulty we sought to avoid than to its opposite.
Aim for the space. Leave a job, a boss, a relationship because you are called to a better circumstance and the outcome will be far more pleasant. Choose to respond to the positive motivation and the likelihood of hitting the curb is far less. Keep your eyes on the open road and you will stay out of the ditch.
Many thanks to my friend Sabine Konig from Hamburg, Germany for reminding me of my Audi driving experience and the life lesson it taught me.