When our son Josh graduated from college, to celebrate in a special way the whole family spent three weeks in Australia. We rented a car for part of our stay. Driving in Australia is a challenge. Getting used to the rotary and unusual words on road signs was a little unsettling, but the part that was most difficult was driving on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the car.
As a driver, when I wanted to turn right, I found myself turning on the windshield wipers. Shifting gears was even worse, for I tended to want to pull on the emergency brake. The way I learned to cope was to just stop signaling altogether! No doubt that endeared American drivers to the Australians in my path.
In addition, I had to be careful passing people on the right because I would get too comfortable in that lane. Suddenly I’d see a car coming straight toward me and realize that even though I was in the right lane, I was actually in the wrong lane. I could not get very involved in conversation because of that. As I gazed at the scenery the car would just naturally float to the right side of the road.
Driving effectively there took great focus and concentration. But I knew I’d achieved success when I got back to the airport in the states and took my keys to the right side of the car to drive home!
Doing the familiar in an unfamiliar way can discipline you to pay better attention and learn to focus.