It’s ok to be ordinary, in fact it’s pretty awesome
A while ago now, I was asked by the wonderful Terry Cook to have a chat with him for his instructor podcast. The Instructor Podcast is full of interviews with experts, leaders, innovators and game changers from inside and outside of the driving instructor industry. I consider myself none of those things and so while I was flattered he asked, I was quite shocked and rather reluctant to appear at first. It took him a while to persuade me I don’t mind telling you. After all, what on Earth would I say and who would be interested in listening to me? I am just an ordinary Driving instructor.
In answer to that worry, TC simply said, HE was interested in listening to me. Clever tactic that! So I took a massive deep breath, and said yes.
We set a date and time and had a chat via Zoom. The resulting podcast TC recorded can be heard on The Instructor Podcast. Needless to say, he made me feel very at home and I thoroughly enjoyed it plus it turns out I did have things to say after all. What a revelation to me that was! It didn’t matter that I wasn’t an expert in anything. TC has a magical ability at putting you at ease, just by being interested in what you have to say. A coaching master.
That appearance and chat gave me confidence, it showed me I can cope outside of my comfort zone and I do have a voice, but most of all it is helping me grow as a person, and it’s all thanks to Terry.
So when TC asked if anyone would like to do a guest blog, I didn’t hesitate in volunteering.
That leads me to this point in time. Sitting here on my day off, trying to think what on Earth to write about. Why have I done this to myself? Self-doubt creeping back in; after all I have nothing to write about.
Terry came to my rescue again when I was struggling for a subject. He asked me, “What are you passionate about? “
That’s such a powerful thought provoking question isn’t it? Ask yourself it. What are you passionate about? Is it easy to answer, what would you say? My initial self-doubting response was nothing, I couldn’t think of anything; I’m just an ordinary driving instructor. All I could think about was all the things I am not and all the things I cannot do or haven’t done yet.
I don’t consider myself an expert in anything. I have lots of interests that are expanding all the time, but I don’t have any specialism that I’m keen to share for the good of the group so others can benefit. I haven’t been doing the job for 3 centuries so can’t impart age old wisdom to anyone who will listen. I don’t specialise in teaching students with disabilities (although I would love to!). I haven’t written a book or a teaching aid or developed a perfect system that makes learning the theory easy (if anyone has such a system I’d be very interested!). I don’t have much of a following on the socials; I don’t do Tik Tok or You Tube videos offering lots of tips and help to learner drivers. I don’t have a super power to tell you about.
I’m just an ordinary driving instructor.
That’s when it struck me. That’s what I’m passionate about, being an ordinary driving instructor! That’s what I do and it’s awesome.
The level of job satisfaction I get form being an instructor is huge. It’s not the test passes that matter, although obviously they are wonderful when they happen. It’s the little personal triumphs that a student has on the journey towards independent driving that I love. It’s the coaching side of the job that I enjoy the most, helping them find a way. Be it when they master clutch control, or stop smoothly for the first time or when they confidently drive around Running Horse Roundabout without help during rush hour.
Each and every triumph is magnificent, and I will talk about them forever and a day if people want to listen. My family will tell you I do all the time!
Being a driving instructor for me isn’t so much about the driving, that’s a bonus. It’s more about spending time listening to students fears and doubts and showing them those fears and doubts are valid, but there is a way through. Listening to their life experiences with a friendly ear, having tissues or chocolates on hand. Building their confidence back up when I need to, allowing them to flourish when they can. Having a positive impact on someone’s life, improving it for the better teaching a life skill is a powerful thing.
Being an ordinary instructor is actually awesome, fulfilling and constantly challenging, and at the moment I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Would I like to write a book further down the line? Maybe.
Could I branch out into instructor training? Absolutely if I wanted to.
Would I like to be involved in road safety education in schools? Definitely!
Right now though, what I’m doing is enough and that’s ok.
If you are reading this and ever have moments of self-doubt like I do, I wonder what you will take away from my ramblings?
I hope I have encouraged you to reach out to others. It’s a great way to learn. Being an instructor can be a lonely job, especially if like me you are fairly new to it. I would encourage you to interact on social media with other instructors. I do often, and rarely am I met with anything negative. We can learn a massive amount from one another, regardless if we are experts in something, or just ordinary instructors. We all have a voice and something to say. Get in touch if you need to!
I hope I have encouraged you to take that opportunity that scares you, whatever it may be. You never know where it may lead. Yes you may fail, yes you may make a fool of yourself, but I guarantee you will gain in the long run far more than you will lose. After all, I took a leap and now you are reading this!
Above all though, I hope I have made you see that being ordinary is actually pretty awesome and something to be proud of. You don’t always need to be the best of the best to make a positive impact on someone.
Thanks for reading, you are amazing!
Guest blog by Sarah Baldock.
You can find Sarah on Instagram