Lessons From Defensive Driving 2

03 March 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here are more lessons I got from Uncle Bob’s safer-driving tips.

Rule #17: Know Your Blind Spots
More commonly touted as, “Know what you don’t know,” knowing that you have blind spots — don’t worry, everyone has them– is only the first step.

Blind spots happen when you’re too close to the situation to see things clearly. They also pop up in situations you don’t want to deal with. The results? You get — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — blind-sided.

So, how to deal?

Awareness is important, and a willingness to listen to viewpoints other than your own. You can start dealing with your blind spots by asking someone you trust and whose opinion you respect (and hopefully is also diplomatic) to point them out to you. Ideally, this should be done in a calm, neutral setting. As in rule number 14, nobody likes being ambushed, even if in this case you ask for it.

Rule #18: Avoid Distractions
Think about them, all those senseless accidents we’ve seen trumpeted on the news and immortalized on YouTube. The texting bus-driver, the busy woman multitasking with her coffee, the teen on his cell…Driving while distracted is just about the most mindlessly stupid thing you can do to endanger yourself, and the people on the same road with you. (Sorry, this is a sore spot with me.)

Split second response time isn’t always needed in business. Unless you’ve fallen in with the mob, it’s not a life-and-death thing, but being aware of distractions — and then choosing to focus on what needs doing — is a potent tool in your skill-portfolio, because your attention, and therefore your power, isn’t divided.

When you’re concentrating on what you’re doing, you use your energy, attention and time more effectively, bringing you closer to your goal with less wasted effort.

Rule #19: Avoid Backing Up
On first look, how will a rule like this apply to anyone running his own business? But somehow no. 19 stuck like a burr. After a while I thought about how second-guessing yourself can get you into all sorts of troublesome scenarios, and voila, the light dawned.

When you do all you can to ensure the success of your actions, let go of self-blame if things don’t turn out as you hoped. If you did it well, you shouldn’t have to torture yourself with what you may have missed. Pick yourself up, take the lesson, keep moving.

Also, always leave yourself an exit strategy.You never know when you’ll really need to back up, or out. (This goes along with “Don’t box yourself in,” and “Try not to paint yourself into a corner you can’t get out of.”)

Rule #22: Know How To Stop
Working in any company today, you have to know a lot of things. When you’re working for yourself, you’re often tasked to know everything. A few good things to learn off the bat is knowing when, where, why and how to stop. How will you know ?

  • Define your boundaries, know your limits – How much is your time worth? Which commitments will help you meet your targets, your break-even point? Which acts will you consider as unethical, or shady?
  • Have measures in place to warn you: when you’ve reached the danger zone, when you’re overextended, when you’re stripping your gears.
  • When you decide or need to stop, make it a full stop. Don’t rehash things to bits, you’ll tie yourself in knots, and for what? Pick yourself up, take the lesson, keep moving.

Rule #23: Know When To Use Your Headlights
As Uncle Bob said, “Headlights are for seeing and BEING seen!” Don’t hide your light under a basket. Let it shine and promote what you’re doing. Enhance your visibility. Make yourself seen.

Note: As I said in the first installment of this multi-parter, these are just my free and on-the-fly interpretation of the rules. Feel free to share your own insight in the comments!

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