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So there we were, myself and MACPA colleague Amy Stumme, on the side of I-95 just south of BWI, flat tire, no help, side-stepping rush-hour traffic, with 90 minutes left on the clock for me to catch the last flight of the day back to St. Louis.

Amy was driving me to the airport after a facilitation gig when we hit a piece of steel that was sitting, for no apparent reason, in the middle lane of 95 North en route to Baltimore. Amy steered her wobbling car through a maze of speeding automobiles to the side of the highway — a death-defying feat in its own right — and we hopped out to survey the damage.

It definitely could’ve been worse. All we had was a shredded tire. A jack, a couple of lug nuts, a quick tire swap, and we’d be on our way.

Here’s the problem: I hadn’t changed a tire in more than 20 years, and certainly not with Die-95 rush-hour traffic bearing down on me.

But with some intuition and a couple of good guesses, we figured it out, and with time to spare (pun intended). It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have no other choice … and when the specter of a messy, soon-to-be-viral, side-of-the-highway death is breathing down your neck.

The lesson I learned that day? It pays to keep your skills sharp.

Practice the important stuff when you don’t need to. When the time comes, you’ll be ready.

Unlike me. I had to ask Amy where her jack was stored and, once we found it, I couldn’t remember how to use it.

In the end, we proved the old saying true: Where’s there’s a will, there’s a way.

But I like this one better: Practice makes perfect.

Ask yourself: What skills will save you in a pinch? Then learn them … and practice them.

Maybe — hopefully — you’ll never need them.

But if you do, you’ll be able to get your ass off the side of I-95 a whole lot faster.

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