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Driving Through Dips

Updated: Jan 7, 2023


This past year, my oldest, Nolan, turned sixteen. Like many people his age, after only a few driving lessons, Nolan started asking about a car. By this, I mean, he started assuming we would get him one. When asked where this notion came from, he could not give me a straightforward answer. We are blessed that my husband and I could purchase him a car, but I didn’t like his assumption. “I’m not sure where you got the idea we would buy you a car. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the car I’m driving is seven years old and has nearly 100,000 miles on it.”

In the end, I knew whatever he drove I wanted it to be safe and reliable. I also wanted it to have a lot of miles and not cost a fortune since statistically there was every possibility for him to get into an accident. I want him to be able to walk away from the accident even if the car is totaled. After careful consideration, my husband Howard and I decided the best thing was to keep the 2015 Honda Pilot and allow Nolan to use it; the person getting a new car would be me.

I am now the owner of a new-to-me 2020 Kia Telluride. Talk about bells and whistles! I’ve never had a nicer vehicle–even when I had a brand new 2000 Ford Mustang (she was something). My Telluride has heated seats, a touchscreen display panel, captains chairs in the middle row (no more fighting from the kids about who has to sit in the middle), a sunroof, and (for real) can even drive itself!

Here’s what you need to know about me and cars…I am not someone who needs bells and whistles. I am not someone who needs something new and shiny. I am not someone who cares that much about what the car looks like. What I need is something safe, reliable, and has BlueTooth so I can listen to audiobooks while driving. Therefore, my Pilot fit the bill. Even better than that, the Pilot was paid off and I definitely prefer having no car payment to having a car payment. My Pilot was familiar and I could do everything I needed to. When daylight savings comes, I can change the time on the clock without consulting the manual. I know how to program the radio with ease. I can even pair a new phone with it. Easy peasy. So what if the seats are a little stained in the back where the kids sit? So what if it has over 100,000 miles? So what if there are some minor dings and dents? It does the job.

Though the Telluride is newer, safer, prettier, and a smoother ride, due to all of the bells and whistles, I needed to learn how to use my new car. While I love learning, I also love the ease of using the things I know how to use. So, for the first couple of weeks, I was supremely frustrated with my new car. Where do I start?

  • The key is different and doesn’t make the reassuring “beep beep” when the car locks so my brain now has to listen to make sure that I actually did lock it.

  • When attempting to program the phone numbers of the people who I call most frequently, even though I easily entered the first five, I had trouble figuring out how to add more. Despite trying to figure it out from the owner’s manual, I was still not finding the information I was looking for. When I asked for help from the salesman, he told me I could find it online. I won’t tell you what I told him when he told me that.

  • I had to install and learn how to use the Android Auto app (which I’m still working on).

  • I realized my new car doesn’t have a CD player so now I have to figure out how to get my CDs into a format I can play in my car.

  • When I got gas for the first time, I thought I needed to pull a lever on the inside of the car to open the gas cap door (which is what I need to do with the Pilot). As it turns out, you don’t need to do this with my Telluride. I heard a release and thought it was the back door. In fact, it was the hood latch and the car started making alarm noises when I went to drive away to warn me my hood was not closed.

I could go on, but I won’t.

Here’s the real point of all of this, and it’s not that I am a spoiled whiner who is complaining about a beautiful new car (although I could see how you would think this). The real point is that the challenges I’m experiencing with the Telluride are part of a predictable learning curve. This is what educational researcher, Michael Fullan, termed The Implementation Dip.

Notice the “desired performance level” is ultimately higher than the “current performance level.” However, before arriving at the desired performance level, you have to go through the dip; you do worse before you do better. We’ve all been there. You’ve learned how to do something very well but in your quest for growth, you choose to improve your performance. There are times when you are not given a choice because the resources you once mastered have become obsolete so you need to learn something new to do what you did before. This drive for growth or the need to adapt happens all the time. After winning the Master’s Tournament in 1997, Tiger Woods revised his golf swing. Steve Jobs invented and reinvented personal computers. Scientists and doctors strive to take what is good and make it even better all the time. Mother Nature does too. What I’m trying to say is it’s actually very common to get comfortable with what you have done and know. As well, it is uncomfortable to get familiar with something new even if the new thing will ultimately be better.

In response to the implementation dip, there are several actions you can take. The first is perhaps the easiest, but it is the one that leads to stagnation–you can choose to remain at the current performance level. This would mean either retreating backward because you encountered the dip or perhaps refusing to even try the new thing in the first place, therefore, avoiding both regression and progress altogether.

I prefer the pathway of trying to reduce the length and depth of the dip. That doesn’t mean the pathway is paved with rose petals and bubble wrap; it means going down the path armed with the knowledge that growth is often messy. One of the best ways I have found to reduce the length and depth of the dip is to acknowledge the dip in the first place. I forgot to consider this with the Telluride and that was my biggest mistake. If I had, I would have gone into this with a different mindset. Rather than frustration or irritation at the novelty of the learning, I would have thought, “Oh! This is an opportunity for me to get one step closer to being as knowledgeable with my new car as I am with my old one!” Same situation, different approach.

There’s no doubt my Telluride has better features than my Pilot. I will be safer (thank you hood latch warning) and fancier than I have ever been. There is also no doubt my journey toward the desired performance level is a bumpy one where I have dipped below my current performance level with my Pilot and I have felt awkward, frustrated, and disappointed. What I know to be true is I felt the exact same way in 2017 when I got my Pilot and had to learn all of its features. And, one day in the future–when the Telluride is paid off and I’ve hit over 100,000 miles and it’s time for something new–I will love the idea of all of the new features my new new car will have and I will be exceedingly annoyed by having to learn them.


P.S. If you watched the Bills-Cincinnati game on Monday night, I'm sure you were stunned as you watched the medical team being called to the field to help Damar Hamlin. I know that I went to bed on Monday praying for him and his family and the first thing I did on Tuesday morning was check to see how he was doing. My Catch of the Week is Damar Hamlin. Please consider donating to his GoFundMe and/or purchasing this Damar Hamlin sweatshirt or this one (either would literally or figuratively show your support since 100% of the profits go to Hamlin's foundation).

P.P.S. Please remember to...

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