Transformative Pressure: How the Human Spirit Turns Hardship Into Progress

Mar 24, 2021

By Kyle Berryhill, Manager of Driver Training Centers

It’s amazing what humans can’t do until we have to! Think about having a messy home and finding out you will have company sooner than expected. That house gets cleaned in record time, doesn’t it? We technically could have done that same exercise and enjoyed the same result without the news of impending visitors. Another example might be having the mental awareness of the need for physical fitness. Maybe we want to lose weight, build muscle, increase energy, or eat better. We prolong those pursuits for a variety of “justifiable” reasons, but when we get doctor’s orders suggesting that our quality of life depends on it, we suddenly find the motivation to join that gym, don’t we? My point is, we often stop short of our capacity by allowing mediocrity to rule when there is no looming pressure. Why is that? I believe it’s in the no-pressure place that we have the unique opportunity to implement what we’ve learned from our time spent under pressure. To carve out who we really want to be—a person (and a company) with discipline and perspective that transforms the norm and transcends extremes.

The difference doesn’t lie within our capabilities, but rather our mindsets. Somewhere in the design of our humanity, we tend to thrive in chaos. We band together. Put aside differences. Work long hours. Drink lots of coffee. We make it happen. I love that design, but where is that when no emergency is present? What if all of the improvements businesses have realized in the last year were already possible but were just lying dormant in the deposits of the company’s potential? Don’t get me wrong, I know we can’t actually live in response mode like that forever—we’d grow weary and stressed beyond belief. I’m not suggesting that. What I am suggesting, though, is that sometimes we have more in us than we let out. Maybe that’s from being shot down in the past. Maybe we aren’t asking the right questions during the calm between storms. Whatever specifics hold us back, the common denominator could simply be our satisfaction with the status quo.

At Ruan’s Driver Training Centers, our status quo was our in-person orientation program. A virtual extension wasn’t even a “twinkle in our eyes” when news of a coronavirus started to break. Nonetheless, we had one week to transition from our well-established comfort zone to the uncharted waters of executing professional driver orientation on a computer screen. One week. What did we do? We put all of our eggs in one basket. Dove into the deep end. Each of us researching, testing, reporting, and repeating the cycle. We epitomized the clean-the-house-in-record-time and suddenly-buy-a-gym-membership phenomena. We were backed into a corner through no choosing of our own with really only one option: survival. And survive we did. The first week of virtual training was nerve-racking to say the least, but it also yielded a satisfying sense of accomplishment once it was over. As the weeks went on, we continued to gain momentum and build confidence in our newfound platform, despite the all the impossible-to-predict technical glitches we seemed to encounter in every class! But now, as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of our impromptu virtual launch, I think the team would agree we have moved from merely surviving to thriving.

Our post-class evaluations from drivers have been consistent with our in-person feedback. We did not expect that. We’ve become subject matter experts in technologies like Microsoft Teams, TenStreet, and SurveyMonkey. We did not expect that. We’ve grown very close as a five-person team in light of (and in spite of) a variety of challenges including, but not limited to: testing positive for COVID-19, moving to different states, mourning the loss of loved ones, feeling isolated in our homes, turning dining rooms into distribution centers, being greatly annoyed by our families and pets—and greatly annoying them right back! I’m sure all Ruan teams can resonate with these scenarios and perhaps even add a few of their own. My hat is off to EVERYONE for doing their part to keep products moving and livelihoods on track in the wake of the pandemic. It really is an astounding achievement!

If you needed proof that the human spirit is alive and well, I just gave it to you. All of us in the Ruan family are more creative, more resilient, more compassionate, more patient, and more determined than we may know. And although it seems like it took a crisis to highlight those qualities, the truth is that they were only an expression of already-existing character. What an encouraging thought! As we navigate the future in a post-COVID world, I am confident we will all retain a high percentage of the fight, drive, tenacity, and devotion we found in 2020. If we allow this unexpected experience to continue building the integrity of who we are, we can’t lose.

About Ruan’s Driver Training Centers

Ruan’s Driver Training Centers launched in August of 2018 to ensure a standardized, industry-leading orientation experience for newly hired drivers. Our DTCs introduce professional drivers to the Ruan culture and help reduce turnover by providing a welcoming environment and engaging information. Since the 2018 launch, more than 1,900 drivers have graduated from the program—1,000 of whom attended orientation virtually in the last 12 months. The five-person DTC team currently conducts orientation for more than 100 drivers each month and is on track to break the previous record of 127 drivers this March.

When drivers are approved to hire by our recruiting team, they are added to the DTC’s roster. Drivers attend a brief “tech check” on Monday to confirm they understand the virtual software and then spend Tuesday and Wednesday in all-day classes covering various topics, including safety and Ruan culture.