I was at a friend’s wedding in 2001. A driver was needed to sort out an emergent situation. There was a car and the keys but no one to drive. The groom confidently told me to drive. “I don’t know how to drive” was my response. He was shocked and rightly so. I know why he was shocked. I am the guy that pushes and encourages folks to take on life and learn skills that would serve them — the personal development evangelist. And here was I without a basic life skill. It was a simple occasion of “this healer cannot heal himself”. Well, I took that on the chin and moved on. The emergency was sorted out and we had a fine wedding afterwards.
My dad’s philosophy on driving was simple — wait until you have yours before you learn. This was steep in the world view that one should not desire what was not in his reach. I abided by it. I saw the point in it. In my final year in secondary school, one of my colleagues brought his mum’s car and everyone tried a spin. When it was my turn I told them not to bother. The next guy that got into that car nearly drove it into the fence. The car came to a halt right in front of the fence. It was angelic interference. That incidence also made me see the wisdom of my dad’s advise. Many “what-ifs” roamed my head that day.
In my final year at the university, my pal, Efosa Elaho, encouraged me to drive. He brought his car and was a willing teacher. We went down the lonely part of the university and our lessons started. It was a car with a manual gear operation. That was my first time of trying to drive. All that I thought about driving came into play. Unfortunately, that mental block did not allow me to progress. Efosa was frustrated because no matter what he said, I did what I thought was right. You can already predict the outcome.
He showed me what to press and what not to press. That tripartite arrangement of a clutch, brake and accelerator was confusing. Add to the confusion, the changing of gears. “This was just too hard for an individual to learn”, I thought. In my mind, all you need to drive a car was to start it and then hold the steering wheel tightly. Then press it down. The car will move and you will take it from there. That was how the operating system in my mind worked. What Efosa was saying was foreign in my orbit. My system rejected it. No matter how many times he said it that day, I always went back to what was pre-configured in my mind.
Efosa gave up and gave me one of the most profound thought on driving. Always the philosopher, he said that the drawback of teaching one to drive is that you ended up going nowhere because you drive in circles. The quaint saying that showed his frustration was lost on me. I kept feeling, it was because I did not hold the steering tight enough, that was why we did not succeed today. Efosa wasted his fuel and time and I gained nothing than watch a frustrated friend hold back his fury.
Then I got a job some years down the line. Funny enough it was Efosa that saw the job advert and sent it to me. The job needed me to drive as I will be part of the warehouse staff and logistics was core to our operations. Well, my options were limited because one day I would need to make deliveries and there would be no excuse. So I got one of the drivers to do me the honours. He was quite excited to be of help.
The D-day arrived and I “showed” myself again. I kept holding the steering so tightly. It amused the guy and when he asked me why I was doing what I was doing, I let him into my philosophy for driving. He chuckled. Tried his best not to disrespect the boss but he just could not hold himself. He did not know when he was literally rolling on the floor and laughing. He told me what the steering was meant for and it had nothing to do with moving the car. A light bulb did not come up in my head, it died. I decided to believe him. After all, what I believed before was not working.
Again, I frustrated the living daylight out of him but he had more patience than Efosa. Oh, he needed to have the patience because he was teaching his supervisor. But all what we did yielded no visible result. I gave up myself.
Then one day I just asked myself “how come that most of the drivers may not comprehend most of what I can but can drive?”. Even those that were not literate could drive. Those who had never had any formal education drove commercial cars. It was then it occurred to me that they knew something that I did not — they followed the laws of driving and forgot about their preconceived ideas. I needed to forget about what I thought driving was and follow the steps my driving teacher was giving me. As Celine Dion said “ A New Day Has Come”. Oh I could see clearly now that the rain is gone. Because the rain has wiped away my tears, ignorance and foolhardiness.
With Jesus joy in my heart, I approached the guy and said I was ready. He was surprised at my busto, high morale and gusto. He obliged me. We took a spin. I did not do as much as I could but he was impressed with my progress. He was so happy I was not holding the steering wheel tightly but was focused on how to get my gear combinations right. About a week of practice, I was a full blown Formula 1 certified driver. Com’on. I could do this thing better than Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton combined.
The driving guy told everyone - living or dead - that he taught me how to drive. I was too happy to have acquired this life skill to bother about his braggadocio. He had earned the bragging right and if it made him happy, he should be happy by all means. I was too happy to know how to drive a car. Both of us were happy. This was a case of “I want to die” and “I want to kill you” — both parties win.
I will summarise the pertinent learning points I got from that experience.
1. Discard philosophies that don’t;’ work no matter how long you’ve held them. There is no award for “the longest-held non-working philosophy”.
2. In every trial, you learn or unlearn something. Don’t give up.
3. When the student is ready and believes s/he can learn, then s/he would.
4. Do not bother about who takes the credit, do what you have to do to make yourself better.
5. Some excuses are ok for a season but as you progress, they don’t hold water anymore.
6. Ask for help. Most times people are willing to help.
7. Do not expect people to help you on your terms. They have their own lives to live.
8. If you are persistent in your quest, there is a possibility of achieving your goal.
9. It is ok to change your mind especially in the presence of superior evidence and wisdom.
10. Don't always be like me. 😂
I hope this has been helpful.
The initial parts of this write up is here Possibilities & The Law Of Recognition, Possibility II: The Curious Case of Bassey & Word Problems and Possibilities III: “I Have A Dream”. You can check out my other works on personal development Asking, Managing Access In Relationships How To Ask, Authenticity, Life Skill: The Power of Saying “No”, Start Off; Look Up & Pedal Hard, 12 Unforgettable Leadership Lessons From The Lion King, InBuilt, Now I Arise, Life Hack: Accountability, Life Hack: Simplicity, Life Hack: Making Impact. I also reviewed The Lion King and wrote about Movies That Shaped.
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