I failed my driving test again. I feel upset, drained, demotivated and a little bit ashamed. For someone that has never failed a test, to fail the same test twice feels a little bit like a slap in the face.
But driving has highlighted as a problem something that has always been my advantage.
I am a brilliant multitasker. My work style is “Drop and Hop”. I think big, I am great at strategy, I solve problems quickly, I can jump from one task to the next without losing track of work and my brain works in a very unstructured way.
Unfortunately, none of those things are great when it comes to passing your driving test. A detail driven test designed to look at the minute details of your operational ability in a completely unknown situation.
I could blame my tester, my test route, the time of the day or the traffic, but the reality is that everything about this test is opposite to what is comfortable, natural and easy for me.
The test requires 40 minutes of undivided attention. My brain works in slots of 15 minutes maximum hence why I use the Pomodoro Method to give structure to my day.
But sitting at my desk this evening, my unstructured brain connected two dots and made me feel like synchronicity is a real thing.
The first thought that came into my mind when I started evaluating my failure is something my Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor told me this week: “Lean into the pressure”.
That is the advice he gave me when my sparring partner had me on a guillotine choke. In this move, your partner is choking you with your head under their arm. Your instincts tell you to pull your head but to get out of that position, you need to do the exact opposite.
You must lean into the pressure of the choke and use your legs to stand up, once you do that, it is hard for your opponent to hold your head where your arteries get blocked, making the position a lot less powerful. Once you reach the tripod position, you can turn sideways and gain side control.
The feeling of being choked and not knowing what to do reminds me of how I feel during my driving lessons where at 30 minutes in my brain tries to pull out and does all the wrong things because it has clocked out.
The second thing that popped into my head is a concept called neuroplasticity that I have been interested in for over two years but have only started reading about it in more detail last week in the book “Deviate – The Science of Seeing Differently”.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself. It does that through the creation of new neural connections. It enables neurons in the brain to recover from injury and disease and works as evolution on a micro scale as it adjusts brain activity in response to new situations or to changes in the environment.
In this book, Beau Lotto teaches you how to actively influence neuroplasticity through a series of different exercises and tips. The aim is to teach people to become more responsive and adaptable to their environments in order to hack the high-tech, fast paced future that awaits for us.
As I write, I decided to embrace the challenge and although I don’t feel ready, I am going to start by leaning into the pressure. Being choked in the tatami and passing my driving test are extremely different problems, but in my case, both require me to repeatedly go against what it feels natural to rewire my brain in order to accomplish the desired outcome.
Even if all my driving efforts go out of the window in 5 years due to the amazing advances in self-driving technologies, or if I never earn a belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I will still have learned how to train my brain to see, act and feel differently. And adaptability is one of the most critical skills one can learn in order to prepare for the inevitable future of technology.