Years ago, I was building a management team for my software company, Timeslips Corp. and I had the strangest idea. I wondered if a candidate’s driving style a reflection of their personality or work style.
I am an “aggressive” driver. I like to push the speed limit and I enjoy moving quickly. I am not at all reckless, I am very careful and I love to drive.
I am well trained, I know how to sidestep accidents and problems when I have the chance. I am also an “aggressive” entrepreneur. I am always looking for a “better way” and that’s also my “why.” So I started to think; if my driving style reflects my own personality (in one respect) do other driving styles at some level define other’s personalities too?
Is There a Connection?
We were interviewing for a VP Sales and it came down to just two people. I said “Let’s go to lunch, you drive.” The first candidate, lets call him Don, opened the door for me, he was very polite. We left the parking lot and we drove to Rt 128 and entered the right lane. Don put his signal on, he was careful, cautious and very courteous. He let people cut in front of him and drove slowly. He didn’t speed but he went the same speed as the flow of traffic. He didn’t play the radio, we chatted while we drove.
The second candidate, we can call him Mark. Mark approached the car on the driver’s side, I let myself into the passenger side. We took off and Mark drove quickly and with confidence to Rt 128, then merged aggressively and stayed in the left lane. He never stopped talking and with ease blended into traffic and was able to plan his exit and merge without any trouble or excitement. Mark traveled New England extensively and was very comfortable and in control.
“Hmm…. Maybe there’s a correlation!” I thought to myself. Maybe there’s something to this. So I kept experimenting. I asked my staff to drive where ever we went and I just observed. Sure enough, I started to see patterns and I thought that those patterns were reflective of the individual’s personality in a sense. Don was in fact a polite, cautious candidate while Mark was gregarious, forward and outgoing. Still not entirely sure, I thought I would just watch and see if more patterns emerged.
Not Always Accurate, But Still Interesting.
My rough and tumble motorcycle buddy Mark was as timid as could be on the highway, he drove like an old lady. I asked him why he drove that way and he explained that he had been in an accident earlier and decided he was too reckless. I thought at the time that his driving was so cautious that there had to be a reason.
And I was right. He had been in a serious accident. Years later I would better understand how and why this happens, I wrote about it several weeks ago, here. Yet Mark was not a timid personality. So does that mean that driving really doesn’t reflect personality? Who knows. I was amusing myself thinking about how the driving style reflects the person.
I Came Up With a Few Classifications Just For Fun:
“No really, it’s much faster going in the right lane, and you don’t have to worry about traffic on one side!” That’s what she told me, my 9th grade teacher, the one who drives a tiny, underpowered car. She was a careful, cautious person. She called herself an introvert. And she was just that. She grasped the wheel with both hands and her eyes barely made it above the steering wheel.
The Tail Gate’r:
This is the one who just can’t get things done fast enough. From the website SimplePsychology.org: “Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock. Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.”
When I was in sales, I drove 175 miles a day most work days. In many cases I had to wait for purchasing agents and that sometimes made me late. Yeah, I was a Tail Gate’r alright, constantly rushing to the next appointment. I was at the top of my game, business was awesome and the better it got the harder I worked. I can certainly identify with The Tail Gate’r.
The Left Lane’r:
You are trying to pass someone on the highway, you get into the left lane. You already know who you are dealing with, there’s one car clogging the left lane, refusing to move even though there are cars behind him tailgating. What goes through your mind? “What’s his problem?” you ask yourself. “Why won’t he get out of the way, doesn’t he see there’s cars bunched up behind him?”
This one is a Left Lane’r. He’s also a control freak. He’s the type open to many opinions, he thinks he’s the only “right” one on the highway, saving us all from ourselves. If I were interviewing him, he would probably cut me off while talking, tell me how to run my company and try to convince me I’m doing things wrong.
The Middle of the Road’r:
This seems to be where most of the driving public live; in the middle lane. Is this a good thing? Probably. It takes all kinds to make a highway and without the middle road’r, there might be a lot more accidents. If I were to guess, this person is not in a hurry but wants to get somewhere safely and in good time. There’s no urgency and no stress if they are not going fast. What’s wrong with that?
The Cruise Control’r:
Like the Middle Road’r, the Cruise Control’r is much more comfortable sticking to a plan. In fact, I would bet most Cruiser’s are uncomfortable turning off cruise control. It’s annoying to have to tap the brake or move over, it’s far more enjoyable to just let the car do the work while enjoying the radio. R E L A X and Chill is part of the way the Cruiser likes to take it. By the way, I love being the Cruise Control’r when I can.
“Lets get up and leave at 4:30 in the morning so we can beat the traffic” says the enthusiastic dad to the rest of his suspicious family trying to figure out WHY they have to get up in the middle of the night. “It’s going to be great! No traffic! Why not?” asks the Crazy Schedule’r. But there’s a method to his madness, The Crazy Schedule’r is trying to find a better way. In fact, if you examine his life, it’s how he lives; always trying to find a better way! Is that a good thing? It can drive people crazy until they realize “Oh, that’s just Dad trying to find a better way, he can’t help it!” says his to kids with mom nodding in agreement.
The Pit Stop’r:
They can’t help it, they have to stop at nearly every roadside shopping/eating/bathroom area they pass. Of course, this is a compound condition, they can also be anyone of the above types as well. But add a Right Lan’r and a Pit Stop’r and you need an extra hour to get anywhere!
OK, Your Turn. Now come up with a few yourself and add comments.
All in Good Fun.
Today’s post is just me amusing myself and trying to make some sense of this crazy world on my own. I play these games with myself all the time and maybe that’s what keeps me amused but every now and then I do discover something useful. So if I offended you by writing this post then I truly apologize, you Right Lane’r, Middle-of-the-road’r, Pit Stop’r, you. 🙂
Oh and by the way, did you know that I run a very popular podcast called Your First Thousand Clients, for business owners?