When Have We Arrived?

When Have We Arrived?

When Have We “Arrived”?: A Challenge Toward Continuous Improvement Written By Charity Butler

While in Sweden, I had the opportunity to visit different schools to teach the game of softball. The last school we were scheduled to visit before students were released for the summer is located twenty minutes outside of Skövde (the city where I was living).

All the Swedish players had other responsibilities during the day. Nicole, my American teammate, and I were scheduled to teach the classes.

So, we had a little problem. We could not take a train directly to the school. Biking several dozen kilometers was out of the question. How in the world would we get to Skara?

Our teammate, Priya, came to the rescue. She allowed us to use her car. This solution, though, created yet another problem. Priya’s car is a stick shift. Ahhh! Neither Nicole nor I had driven a “manual” in years.

Early that morning, we tentatively buckled ourselves into the inconspicuous little vehicle. I did not even get to practice driving!

The car spit and sputtered as it immediately stalled out. “Oh, right… foot on the clutch and the break. Come on. You can do this…” I told myself. The clutch was firmly pressed, the break was in and the car was on. Check.

“Now, how do I get this thing in reverse?” I said out loud. After fumbling around for several minutes, we realized the gear shift had to be almost covertly pushed down in order to switch to the “R” gear.

“Back easy now, Charity.” I thought. “Turn the wheel. There we go. Now, switch to first gear. Turn. YES!” Free at last! We were moving.

We made the twenty minute voyage to Skara with NO more stall out episodes.

After our time with the kids, we entered the little car with a newfound confidence. The ride back started smoothly.

We were comfortably cruising down the road as we approached a busy intersection. I down shifted as we moved closer, misjudging the speed of the car in front of me. Was he going to keep going or not? My mind was back in high gear, “Clutch, break, first gear, a little gas… a little more…”

“Bump!” “Bounce!” “Thud!” We were stuck right in the middle of everything. “OK, maybe a little less gas this time.” I thought, as we sat helplessly in the buzz of crossing traffic.

I was so grateful to have Nicole as a comforting voice and an extra set of eyes as I attempted to maneuver the quivering little Volvo through all the other cars. We did arrive back to the apartment in one piece.

Our little road trip reminded me of a valuable lesson, though: when I feel the most invincible, I am most vulnerable.
The particular situation is irrelevant: driving a stick shift car, fielding a ground ball, or making a moral decision. When I relax and think I have everything figured out, is usually just when I stall out, collect a fielding error, or make an unwise decision.

There is something to be said for self-awareness and continuous learning. We can never relax and think we have anything all figured out.

“As long as you think you're green, you'll grow. As soon as you think you're ripe, you'll rot.”
–Scott Horton

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