Thursday, August 14, 2008

Shifting Gears for the First Time

I was recently teaching a young friend to drive a stick shift vehicle. I learned many many years ago. When my father taught me, there was limited instruction given, followed by a lot of jerky driving as I learned through trial and error exactly what to do... and not do.

As I taught my friend, she practiced starting and stopping the car. Over and over again, she went through the procedure of taking her foot off the brake, putting it on the gas and slowly releasing the clutch as she gave it the gas. Sometimes she did it flawlessly. Other times she jerked a bit. A couple of times she killed it. Each effort was equally useful to the learning process. Finding out what does not work is just as valuable as finding out what does work!

On the second lesson, after a review of starting and stopping, it was time to learn to shift from first to second gear. We talked the process through many many times. She practiced sliding the gear shift from first, straight back into second with the clutch depressed and the break on. we 'rehearsed' the process over and over again to get her familiar with the sequencing of what she would need to do. We identified the exact spot in the parking lot where 'the shift' would take place.

I explained that it was actually much easier to shift from 1st to 2nd gear than it is to start from a dead stop. As reassuring as I was, my friend was still really afraid to actually DO IT! She was afraid she would hurt my car. She was not sure what the worst case scenario would be. She was trying to compare what might happen to the worst experiences she had when launching a jerky start.

She didn't feel she was ready. I knew she was. I finally said, "No matter how many times we talk it through, or how much you prepare, you won't know you can do it... until you do it. GO!"

And... Go she did! Her first shift from 1st to 2nd may have been an internally stressful event, but she pulled it off perfectly in the external world! I was so elated for her! She'll never again doubt that she can do it!

For so many experiences in life, we simply don't know we can do something... until we do it! There's no other way than to take the leap and do it.

I can't remember what it was like when I made my first shift back in 1980, but I got to relive a bit of that thrill with my young friend. I was absolutely certain she could do it, but she was totally unsure. I was reminded again that often I am indeed ready for something, but I don't feel like I'm there yet.

Sometimes... you just have to DO IT! I'm no exception... and neither are you!

No comments: