UPDATE: I passed my written test for driving last week! I am so thrilled to get this first step completed. The stakes were high because my Mother-in-law paid for this test. This was her way of showing her support. I am so grateful. I have a very loving and supportive Dutch family over here. But it did add another level of stress since I wanted to do her proud.
I’ve begun the process of the driving lessons a few weeks back. Every Wednesday I meet up with my instructor and drive for two hours (each lesson = one hour duration). We decided that this would be the best way to get through the ten lessons and get a driving licence faster. Before signing up for driving lessons I had a practice test. The instructor pointed out a few bad habits I’ve developed over the years such as how I hold the steering wheel while making a turn. This is easily fixed, I thought. I felt pretty confident after this test run. Now that I’ve begun my lessons I can safely say that my confidence has yet again plummeted. HOLY CRAP! Everything from down-shifting, signaling for a turn, to looking in my mirrors is completely the opposite of how I learned to drive in the US. The first lesson was eye-opening. By the second, I thought, “I got this”. But alas, more issues were pointed out to me. To rewire your brain in something you know so well is not so easy. Fortunately I have a two-hour block and eventually I snap out of my old ways.
I got a bit of wake up call during this last session. My instructor said, “You are not looking in your mirrors.” I took issue with this because I always look in my mirrors. I really had to sit and think on this for a while. Here is the difference. In Michigan*, we are taught to use our peripheral vision throughout the driving experience. I think I am clearly looking at the mirrors but he, my instructor, is watching at certain cue points that I was unaware of. He explained this to me at the first lesson. So during this lesson, I made exaggerated gestures to prove that I am looking. So I respond to his evaluation by saying, “I believe that I did.” A little discussion ensued and then he said, “I am here to help you pass the driving test. It won’t do you any good to contest the observations of the examiner during your test.” Ladies and Gentlemen, he was saying in a very matter of fact way, Check your EGO at the door.
This moment brought me back to my early days as a trainer for my company in Alexandria, VA. I had many challenges ahead of me. I was new to the company and introducing a new software with a new business process that would add extra work to everyone in the company who travels. Add to that, I would be teaching a group of talented software programmers, people way above my pay grade, AND age. They ate me alive! I remember what I had to do to survive the onslaught of criticism. Repeat the facts, do nothing else. No matter what ,they had to do this thing I was teaching in the way I was delivering it. Of course over time we would change things but at that moment this is the way it is[was]. When my driving instructor said, this is the way it is, I woke up and remembered that I am acting every bit like those old fuddy-duddys who were resisting the change that was happening in the company. Yes, the way they use their mirrors, blinkers, or even changing lanes here in the Netherlands is different and new. But the only thing I can do is just let go of what I think I know and embrace what is now. Wish me luck!
*I can only speak to my experiences as a new driver in the late 80’s in the state of Michigan. Since then many rules have changed in my great state as I am sure in the whole of the United States [ahem, some time has passed]. However, each state is different in how they train drivers.