ACT clutch

I tend to lose my cool when I’m working on cars. 

That’s not how I want to be. I hate that about myself. Because it’s bigger than cars; it’s personality flaws. We all know cars can be a royal pain in the ass sometimes… and I’m fine with that. It’s worth it in the end. Like my dad always says, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.” But sometimes I just SNAP in the moment.

blue CRX

And I hate whatever character trait is within me… that allows me to lose my cool.  

Dammit I try to keep a level head. I try to stay up & not get caught up in the little things… and I know better! But dammit man! I’m just short-fused sometimes when things don’t go the way I want them too. Will I ever overcome it? 

e34 BMW

We have to learn to break the ‘old negative habits’, and create ‘new positive habits’ in their place.

And here’s what I learned are my TWO MAIN negative culprits… and/or the fuses to me losing my sh*t.  Yours may be different; find the source. But for me, it’s:

red Fiesta ST

1:  TIME

Know your limits! I habitually set time limits on myself that are just too damn tight. Often times, my inner dialogue goes something like this:

  1. I’m gonna work on the magazine ALL DAY today & make some real headway. 
  2. And then I’m gonna ride my bike this afternoon because the weather’s awesome. 
  3. But I’m also gonna pick up my little girl from school & we’re gonna play all afternoon.
  4. Oh & I need to pull the cracked manifold off my Fiesta real quick before I’m supposed meet Guy for lunch in 20 minutes. 
  5. And when I get back, I should cut down a tree in the backyard & replace the u-joints on my Jeep before a family birthday dinner at 6 where I can’t be late or dirty.

Do you see the overlap there lol? It ain’t all happening! But my dumb little brain has convinced me it’s possible if I just commit. I do this constantly, and I do it subconsciously. No idea why lol. For somebody that’s super laid-back & has literally nothing in my actual iPhone calendar other than tacos… my mental daily schedule is jam-packed beyond possibility, with zero room for margin. 

Lowered Ford F150

So when something small starts to go ‘not as planned’ (as often happens working on cars), it’s a domino effect that swells bigger & bigger… like a tsunami.

And my whole master plan gets drenched. I end up late for dinner, I let people down, I tick-off my wife, and I put unnecessary stress on myself. And I think THAT’s what sets me off. It’s not so much the obstacle in front of me… as much as it is ‘I know how this is about to play out’. And the fact that – I did it again. 

I honestly think a lot of it has to do with me being a father now. That’s real – because I’m acutely aware of how fast my little girl is growing up right before my eyes. Yet I’m still an OG so I rice cars & ride mountain bikes & sh*t lol. But I’m constantly twisted-up inside, because every moment away from home playing with a hobby seems like a moment lost… no matter how much I’m enjoying it. So I tend to put these ambitious time-limits on myself… to get back home. I try to get too much done in a day, and the second life throws a wrench at my schedule & a bolt gets tough to break (for example), BOOM there goes the dynamite. It’s as if I don’t know better, but I damn sure do. And that’s the frustration…

I keep setting these obvious traps for myself.

And I end up not fully being in the moment anywhere… because my mind is constantly preoccupied with something that’s neglected/unfinished somewhere else. Don’t do that. BE in the moment; be where your feet are.  

Porsche 911sc


When I’m working on a project car and something is giving me an issue… part of my inevitable breakdown… is that I get tunnel vision. I lose the ability to see clearly with an open mind. 

I fight the current. They say that if you get caught in an undertow that starts pulling you out to sea, you don’t swim against it… because that will just tire you out & the current is stronger. So what you do is: Swim to the side, either side, until you get out from the rip-current… and then it will be much easier/calmer to swim back to shore. Well – the same principle applies to most of life’s irritating obstacles & dilemmas. 

I’ll wrestle with a hard to reach bolt for a half hour… cursing, struggling, & cutting my knuckles the whole damn time… rather than just reevaluating & removing 1 more simple piece to gain the access I need.

Porsche 944

It’s like I’m hellbent on winning the battle by being stubborn & hard-headed… rather than just staying clear-headed & adjusting the battle plan.

I’ve convinced myself that anything else taken apart will result in broken pieces, rather than a solution. And I’m not wise enough to just walk away, cool off for a second, stay loose, and regroup with a clear head. And that drives me nuts, because I can see it plain-as-day now – outside the moment. But in the moment… I go blind. 

Jeep 37s

Man I know it’s easier said than done. But watch out for that tunnel vision. And be aware of when it’s starting to blind you. 

Life is full of challenges. It doesn’t let up as you get older/busier. And it will never benefit you to lose your cool. So work on it now; conquer it now. Like I said earlier: break the bad habits, and create new paths for positive reactions. Retrain your brain. It may sound dumb, but sometimes I lay in bed before I get up in the morning, and tell myself I’m not gonna lose my cool today. And sometimes just saying it at the beginning of the day, makes you catch it when it starts to happen. 

Text by Wooley from Issue 56 of S3 Magazine. Subscribe here to get the mag!