We’ all seen this video many times. Painful to watch. What’s wrong? “The Driver is Stupid, Six.” True...but how does one become stupid? Well, if you’re not familiar with them, research the brain synapses, these are the little connections that tie all the nerve cells together and so the brain fires off at an unbelievable rate. As children, this system is going full blown to the point where learning becomes easy. But, somehow this eventually slows, and learning becomes much more difficult.
I don’t know. There might be hundreds or thousands of reasons. Perhaps it’s all the labels put on people by society...telling you how you should behave in order to be something. Maybe, it’s television. Maybe our family and circle of friends. What happens is the synapses that aren’t used as much eventually shut down, and the mind fires through the more commonly used synapses. In other words, we program our minds to develop habits. Once the habits are set, they’re hard to break. We will then stick to our habits. If that’s mischief and trouble, we end up in jail. If it’s booze and drugs, we end up homeless. If it was our habit to eat everything we can and play video games all day, we become fat and smelly and physically weak. And homeless when grandma dies.
The best drivers are the ones who can adapt effortlessly. In order to do this, you have to have those unused synapses to be able to open up and fire at a moment’s notice. For a heavy hauler, it’s like programming coordinates into your GPS. For the average person, it’s like having a super power. “Let’s see...16 wide, 16 tall, 160k, 110ft long, Press Enter.” And instantly, you reset. Think about that for a moment...there are many who forget they are pulling a trailer in the first place. But it’s not just the heavy haulers. I think of the tanker yankers who make those mental adjustments for liquid loads. Forget your carry liquid, and you’re going to roll that truck.
Now, I’m not picking on new drivers, because veteran drivers can start off as good drivers but become stupid too. How is that possible? Remember those brain synapses and how you set them and program them? If you become complacent and comfortable, those unused synapses will still shut down. And so, you see the food hogging at the buffet. You see the rudeness and impatience and tailgating. This isn’t new drivers, this is veteran drivers that do this stuff. You’ve programmed yourself to have bad habits.
Ask yourself, “Did get yell and curse and flip anyone off? Did I tailgate anyone today? Did I stay up too late and drive tired? Did I almost lose control of the truck today?”
Let’s go a bit deeper. “On a scale of 1-10, what do I give myself as a driver? Where can I improve?” Be honest...if you’re yelling and cursing and almost lost control, you can improve your craft. When was the last time, you made changes to improve your game? When was the last time you learned something new? Been a minute? Your infrequently used synapses are going to shut down and it will become extremely difficult for you to learn and you will become stupid.
If you’re the smartest kid in the 3rd grade, that’s good. But if you’ve been the smartest kid in the 3rd grade for the last 10 years, is that still an accomplishment to be proud of? What have you learned new? How have you improved as a person, as a driver? Use it or lose it.
Developing Problem Solving Skills (LONG POST)The best drivers
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S.A.D. Yep Standard American Diet, It absolutely has an effect on the brain. Grain Brain is a great book, it's available on Audible. Along with hundreds of others that can explain exactly what your asking about. A couple other are, You Can Fix Your Brain, Why Isn't My Brain Working, A.D.H.D. Nation, Brain Maker. These Books will answer all your questions.
I made mention of programming the mind like a GPS. When you see the video of the USA truck, he couldn’t figure a way out of the mess he was in, and the solution was so simple. If you’re pulling OSOW, the permits will state something about how use of that permit does not in no way guarantee that you will fit on the route, nor can you hold the State liable. Interesting, isn’t it?
Every one of you will run into an issue on your permitted route. If all of your synapses are firing off, you will be able to problem solve on the fly. Then again, you have to be able to problem solve on the fly. I am trying to figure out how to explain how you will read the roads and traffic and set up your turns, or thread the needle (you know...getting a really big load through a small area without hitting anything...Heck, you can’t even see after 12-13 wide).
So, how do you began?
1. Develop good habits.
- Pre Trip
- Proper Rest
- Eating and Drinking in Moderation
2. Self Discipline
-Patience. If you lack it, DEVELOP IT BEFORE getting into OSOW. If you don’t have it, you’re going to screw up rather quickly.
- Mental Focus. Mental focus is the stuff you need when things are critical...like when you are in tight quarters or under stress. You have an extremely short window to use mental focus. Once it’s gone, the brain shuts down and you’re sitting there in a funk like that USA driver. Poor guy...by the time that happens, you can’t think your way out o ANY predicament and you only make things worse. And it will normally take someone else to come up to think for you and tell you what to do. You have to build up your mental focus. Many ways to do this...memory exercises, crossword puzzles, whodunnit, sudoku...etc.
-Calm. Being calm is a show of mental strength. No matter what’s going on in the world, never lose your calm.
3. Continuing education.
Education is an eternal thing. To keep those synapses firing, you have to continue learning. Doesn’t necessarily have to do with trucking, it just has to stimulate the mind. No, watching YouTube videos and doing Facebook is not as beneficial as reading.
“But it’s faster and easier, Six”
And won’t stop those synapses from shutting down.
couple things i always tell new drivers.
1. people don't usually make mistakes when they are fresh and alert, you make mistakes when you are tired. And because you're a trucker YOU'RE ALWAYS TIRED. (esp at first).
2. If you screw up, and you will screw up (we all do). STOP before making it worse. Even if you have to get out and walk around and calm down.
3. do not panic. There is a solution for everything. You might not like the solution but there is one. You just have to find it and if you need to slow way down in whatever situation you are in to figure out, then do that.
4. Never enter somewhere you don't know how to get out of.
Can't tell you how often I've stopped in the middle of the road doing a delivery (food service, construction, whatever) and thrown the 4 ways and walked in to figure out what i"m supposed to be doing. Forget the cars, they can go around.
Great post six !!! Definatly something all of us can keep in the back of our minds when were having a stressful day and that bmw races by u when the merge lane is ending and feel like cursing him to the moon , sometimes those little things take us over the edge after we been under stress for a while. Thanks for sharing another great post with us
Another great post Sixx. What you don't use, you lose.
I've been that driver you talked about, not when I first started but about years 5-10, maybe 12. Gosh it was bad. Thank the Lord I didn't screw anything up.
Then I just realized that I was no longer a professional driver and I didn't like that. I take pride in my work and my image. Perception is reality.
I will still get upset if I get cutoff by a 4 wheeler or a big truck but it doesn't get under my skin and cause a reaction our of me. I can't control the actions of others, I can only control how I react. Once I learned that it was pretty easy to become professional again.
Interestingly enough, around this same time frame that I started acting like an idiot my dress code went way down. I started wearing sweat pants and worn out tshirts. Just not really caring what others thought. Something about dressing nicer makes one feel better and therefore perform better. Now I'm not talking about wearing a tie, although that's not out of the question, but I only wear nice jeans or jeans shorts, or some type of khakis. Usually wear a nice pocket t-shirt but prefer some type of collar shirt when at a customer's location.
As someone already alluded to, the standard American diet plays a huge role in the decline of our brain and our body in general. The book Food by Dr. Mark Hyman does a good job of explaining this as well.
Anyway, enough of my rambling. Carry on...
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