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Searching for Excellence

How do you define excellence? What would excellence look like in riding a motorcycle? Who do we know whom we would consider to be an excellent rider?

According to the dictionary, excellence is defined as "the quality of being excellent. Now that's real helpful, isn't it? Using a word to describe the meaning of the word is called a circular definition. There's got to be a better definition.

One trucking company was trying to identify excellence within its organization. They began studying the things they knew about their company's operations. For example, they learned that their average driver put on 125,000 miles a year and had two accidents.

Yet, they were also recognizing one driver who over twenty years had logged four million accident free miles. What made the difference? Was he just incredibly lucky? Certainly that may have been a factor in his safe driving record, but there had to be more behind his success.

"As he drove, he was continually asking himself what he would do if someone did something unexpected."

In talking with him, he admitted to playing games while he worked. The game he played was "What if." As he drove, he was continually asking himself what he would do if someone did something unexpected. That way he was ready if they did and it wasn't really unexpected.

How can we apply his simple but successful driving technique to our riding? As we are tooling down the road, are we playing the same game? Are we asking "What if." Are we planning for the unexpected?

The more we can anticipate what might happen on the road, the less likely we are to end up in a situation where it becomes a problem. For example, if we think that car next to us might suddenly change lanes as it approaches that slower traffic ahead, we could allow a little room in case they do.

The result is that it becomes a non-issue when they do it. We don't have to suddenly say "Oh! No!" (or words to that effect) and quickly take evasive actions to avoid a crash, And if the driver of the car behaves and stays in his lane, we haven't lost anything either.

The beauty of this "What if" game is that we can play it in our four-wheeled vehicles, too. That means we can keep our observation skills sharp during times when we're not riding so there's no mental sluggishness when we begin riding again.

Four million accident-free miles is a pretty good driving record for a trucker. For us as motorcyclists, it represents an goal that means years of riding enjoyment at its highest. What if we achieve it?

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!