3Getting in Gear

Think about your first car. Some of you can close your eyes and envision when your eyes first gazed upon it. You were entranced, as you longed to be able to drive like an adult. It is amusing to hear how adults describe their first vehicle, especially if it had unique qualities. Even if the car was a junker, there were certain things that stood out to you.

Remembering your first car is one thing; remembering how you first drove that vehicle is a completely different memory. Some of you started with a vehicle with a manual stick shift. Do you remember what those first few drives were like? The grinding gears and jerky ride as you tried hard to manage the clutch and accelerator while attempting to stay on the road. If you don't remember, I am sure those who rode with you do.

Driving is difficult, with all of the inputs and decisions that need to be made. The same goes with leadership. Communicating a vision, managing people, dealing with issues, all as you try to stay focused on your own personal tasks and goals can be quite difficult. Leading well is similar to driving well. Over time you get in a rhythm if you observe and practice, but those first few years can be tense to say the least.

My first car was a 1972 Alfa Romeo GT2000. It was a sleek, candy-apple red, two-door, five-speed beauty. As a 16-year-old living in a small city in central Oklahoma, it felt as James Bond-ish as any car could. The windshield wipers alternated toward one another and the smooth ...

Get 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.