When trying to understand human nature typically you have people who study behavior in clinical and controlled circumstances. They want to control the environment to of course eliminate the variables. They use observation and objective measurement to develop a hypothesis and draw conclusions. These studies can last hours, days, weeks and sometimes years, the longer you run it the more subjects and the more you can rely on the data.
For over 20 years I have been running the same experiment. I sit next to people, all kinds of people and in a really fun way, in a matter of seconds my environment will reveal who they really are. We are actually two people, the real us and the us we pretend to be. We don't really think about this much because it is part of our normal routine. Many cultures have names for the "inside man and the outside man" that I'm referring to. Who we really are vs. what we think society expects to see of us.
It is a bit alarming and initially awkward for them to sit next to a stranger and have them learn your deepest secrets but at the same time it can be liberating as a journey of self discovery.
The unique thing about my experiment is its accessibility. Just about everyone can drive a car and most do on a daily bases. Learning within that familiar environment makes it attractive, it's sneaky that way, people don't realize as soon as the car skids it will instantly trigger "fight or flight" response in everyone that hasn't experienced it before.
As soon as fight or flight is triggered you are dealing with that persons subconscious, the inner person. As uncomfortable as this may sound it is actually pretty fun for the student, much like a roller coaster or a scary movie.
The difference is that it's a teaching environment as well. This means I am observing and measuring the individuals reactions to come up with the most efficient course of action for this person.
It is amazing how different people are, some are overtly boastful before, some meek and humble though most of course fall somewhere in between. What is interesting is that it has absolutely no correlation with how they actually are. The person we act as can be vastly different to who we really are. Since we are consciously adapting to circumstances we can only do it in environments where we are so comfortable that we can stay one step ahead.
The skidding car shatters the facade, think of a friend that has a really funny laugh (or maybe a snort!) that comes out only when they are genuinely surprised by something hilarious. There are many more things we can repress. Look at the definition of repression: "a mental process by which distressing thoughts, memories, or impulses that may give rise to anxiety are excluded from consciousness and left to operate in the unconscious"
"Left to operate in the subconscious", Houston we have a problem. burying a problem works as long as we feel we are in control, specifically no surprises (the snort laugh).
So with students I have the honer of seeing them as they really are. We then form a bit of mutual trust (I will only use this knowledge to help you) and we start making progress step by step. For each person though the steps are different, different sizes, different shapes and sometimes in a different order. The clarity of not having to filter everything though the conscious facade makes the progress super efficient and quite pure.
Again an absolute honor and of course I must add I am the same, with the same issues. I realized all of that after years of teaching that in a way they were teaching me because I would see the same traits mirrored in myself. I feel that's when it hit me, I had developed a sense of empathy, I could bring up things anticipating what they needed next so we could avoid stalling the progress.
I went from a facilitator to a actual teacher and soon thereafter I realized I need to write a book. Optimum Drive is about this cathartic journey of self-discovery and insight into what actually makes us tick. I understand now why people plateau, I can see their potential but they can't, my job is to clear the clutter we all put in the way of our own journey. I truly believe we all have to potential for greatness within us.
-Paul F. Gerrard