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  • Writer's pictureEd Cangialosi

Time to Drive!


-John Dewey (October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952)


What have you been doing to prepare for your driving season? You could be doing things like rebuilding your car. Hitting the gym to be stronger, be more flexible, and have more endurance. You could also be putting time in on the sim-racer to build your library of track references and racing techniques.


These and other things like watching videos and reading about the art of driving are all going to be beneficial. As should be apparent some of the stuff you can work on is physical and some is mental. It can feel easier to work on the physical part because progress is easier to see and measure – if you paint your car or lift more weight at the gym you feel a sense of accomplishment. Working on your mental capacity can feel less satisfying for sure.


My suggestion is that we get the most out of our training when we consciously combine our physical and mental workouts. What I mean is that although form is really important it doesn’t mean that you have to carefully consider each movement of every pushup, but as is probably given away by the quote by John Dewey the American educator, philosopher and social reformer I put up top. I admit that I am not as familiar with Dewey’s work as I feel I ought to be. (He’s not the Dewey decimal system Dewey – that was his unrelated contemporary, Melvil.) However, I have the good fortune to be back in school at Columbia Business School for an ExecEd class on leadership in the nonprofit sector. One of our class sessions began with Professor Sarah Brazaitus showing this quote in order to set the tone for her discussion on leading diverse teams.


I immediately recognized that I had been gifted a new way to describe an old tool that I could use to teach my NASA NE track day students. I ended up in the front of the NASA NE classroom by asking to talk about how to make notes on a track map after a driving session. That is, reflect on the experience they just enjoyed. But I suspect that when an experience is so totally new and difficult that it is truly hard to make sense of it right away. The advice is don’t think too much, just make some notes for whatever comes to mind right away. Keep it up and after a few sessions when the experience isn’t as new it will become easier to reflect sooner and deeper. I dunno, but we’ll see how it goes for my students and me.


If you’re not new to the track and have the opportunity to use a data logger because you’re competing you may not have thought about the unit as a way to reflect on your experience, but it is by way of cold hard numbers. Now what you do with the reflection is another matter.

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