I go into the bend just a little too fast, so I lift my foot off the accelarator.
It’s no use: this old and battered jalopy with its worn tires and leaking suspension doesn’t obey and veers to the edge of the tarmac.
The right front wheel runs off the edge into the gravel – I correct to the left.
Instantly, the entire front of the car starts bobbing wildly, driving us chaotically to the left side of the road.
There’s a 5 meter cliff and no guardrail on that side.
Fully on auto-pilot, a man made of nothing but reflexes, I counter-steer.
The car wildly lurches to the right, I counter-steer again and again and again as the thing makes three complete 360’s.
The engine has stopped, my foot is on the clutch, and we’re calmly rolling down the hill, the curve and near-death behind us.
I let the clutch come up as I breathe deeply, and the engine kicks in again.
My friend Adam and I start laughing maniacally.
Good friendships are made this way, but that’s not the point.
Here’s the point: My dad did that – he saved my life that day.
Here’s why the lesson he taught me befits you. I can recommend it
“Son, you’re not a bad driver buy you’ve only had your license for 6 months. You’re a liability. ”
I’m early twenties and arrogant.
“I’m buying you an 8 hours snow and ice skidding course on the Zandvoort racing track. Happy birthday”.
I’m over-confident, but I also know fun and gratitude, so I take the voucher and hug the old man.
A few weeks later I’m skidding and spinning, slamming breaks and pulling the handbreak, a whole day long.
Great sheets of soapy water flare up around my car as I fling the machine from side to side.
By the time I’m done, the instructor has burned the reflexes into me on every level.
A year later another car is about to throw me off a mountain, and those reflexes take over and save the day.
In life and in business, you need that kind of reflexive skills
For example, the ability to reply to inquiries efficiently and effectively comes in very handy for a freelancer.
You get that skill with practice.
When shit hits the fan and your day goes to pieces between dealing with kids, clients and fights with your husband – you need to have a trained reflex that at the right time comes up and says: “Here it stops, now we close the door, unplug, and get this work done. Until then, I”m not available.”
The more often you make a decision like that, the more natural it becomes. After a while, it becomes your instinctive reaction at the first sign of trouble.
It’s practice. It builds habits. Those habits protect you when you need them to.
If you think about it, there are hundreds of these kinds of skills – big, small, important and inconsequential.
But if you actively and conscientiously observe which skills contribute to better work and a better bottom line, and you make an effort to train those skills, you’ll see life and business become a lot more fluent and effortless.
Another skill that will come in real handy?
The ability to write a quick email to your list each day, in less than 30 minutes.
And, in such a way that they’re happy to hear from you.
Which is what you learn when you take me on as a
kung-fu master – I mean writing mentor.
By and by, your writing becomes so easy and fluent you just riff these bad boys off before you finish your morning coffee. And that’s a good skill to have.