The “art” of driving the tour bus

I read a blog post today about George Leonard’s great little book, Mastery, which I highly recommend. (I’ve got a copy to loan if you’re interested.) He makes the point that so few people master anything because they’re not willing to push through resistance and especially to endure the long plateaus that precede mastery. But this passage caught my attention and made me think of our responsibility to drive guests on the campus tour:

Our preoccupation with goals, results, and the quick fix has separated us from our own experiences…there are all of those chores that most of us can’t avoid: cleaning, straightening, raking leaves, shopping for groceries, driving the children to various activities, preparing food, washing dishes, washing the car, commuting, performing the routine, repetitive aspects of our jobs….Take driving, for instance. Say you need to drive ten miles to visit a friend. You might consider the trip itself as in-between-time, something to get over with. Or you could take it as an opportunity for the practice of mastery. In that case, you would approach your car in a state of full awareness…Take a moment to walk around the car and check its external condition, especially that of the tires…Open the door and get in the driver’s seat, performing the next series of actions as a ritual: fastening the seatbelt, adjusting the seat and the rearview mirror…As you begin moving, make a silent affirmation that you’ll take responsibility for the space all around your vehicle at all times…We tend to downgrade driving as a skill simply because it’s so common. Actually maneuvering a car through varying conditions of weather, traffic, and road surface calls for an extremely high level of perception, concentration, coordination, and judgement…Driving can be high art…Ultimately, nothing in this life is “commonplace,” nothing is “in between.”  The threads that join your every act, your every thought, are infinite.  All paths of mastery eventually merge. (Mastery, p. 141-150).

A key to our first VC service standard to “Be Safe” is mindfulness. How often do we see the task of driving the tour bus as the “mindless” portion of the tour? I like the author’s suggestions to make a ritual out of preparing to drive. We should all go through a mental checklist before we take off in the tour bus. Make driving as much of an art as you do giving the tour. Give it your full attention. You will be safer, and it will become less of a chore and more of a delight.


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