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Five Life Lessons from Clarkson, Hammond, and May

If you’ve ever watched an episode of BBC’s Top Gear prior to this year, you probably got hooked on the motoring escapades of the Orangutan, the Hamster, and Captain Slow. It’s hard not to; this trio of journalists and petrol heads, as they’re known in the United Kingdom, have been entertaining audiences for nearly 20 years.

I got hooked and have watched nearly every episode of Top Gear that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May have hosted. These episodes have made me laugh so hard my belly hurt. They’ve also made me cry with both sadness and joy. Watching an episode of Top Gear is like watching an episode of the Simpsons: it’s crazy as hell, but someone always learns something.

Top Gear Live Torino

Here are five life lessons that I learned from watching Clarkson, Hammond, and May:

1. Never be Afraid to be Yourself

This is a lesson it can take some of us decades to learn. In fact, I think this is an ongoing lesson for many of us. Running with the concept that your car says a lot about your personality, the trio often chose machines that fit their personalities all too well.

Never was this more apparent when they each chose supercars for travel across Italy. Clarkson, the biggest and loudest of the three, arrived in an orange Lamborghini Aventador. May quipped, “Hello, shrinking violet,” as Clarkson unfolded all six feet, five inches of himself from the cockpit.

When Clarkson says that the car was styled by someone who’s 12, he’s embracing his own 12-year-old self. For the same challenge, May, who’s known for being methodical and technical, to the point of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, chose a McLaren MP4-12C, one of the most technically advanced cars built at the time. Hammond’s choice of the Noble M600 pointed to his roots in the northern counties of the UK.

2. You’re Never Too Old to Learn

Throughout the run of the show, the trio took up many a challenge from producers. These usually entailed limited budgets and foreign countries. While there are multiple clips showing Clarkson, Hammond, and May being more than a little closed-minded, if not bigoted, these trips regularly showed a different side to them.

Broadcast in March of 2014, their trip through Burma showed that Clarkson was often the most open-minded of the three, especially when traveling. As he reflects on their days in the country, Clarkson breaks down into tears.

Historians emphasize the power of seeing through many lenses, as this often leads to a greater understanding of the world around us. Never is that truer when Clarkson, Hammond, and May learn something new from the cultures they visit.

3. Always be Prepared

When you work with cars or travel a lot, things often go wrong. This is compounded for the trio since they often take second-hand cars on long distance trips, putting them through their paces. The resulting breakdowns often lead to one of the trio being left to fend for himself.

Hammond and May aren’t always emotionally prepared for what happens, but they are prepared with mechanical skills to fix their own cars. Clarkson’s form of preparation is usually making sure he has a hammer.

Whether you’re a skilled welder or you rely on hammers, being prepared for anything thrown your way is one of life’s necessities. In fact, it’s probably time to learn to change a tire.

4. Choose Your Words Wisely

This is a lesson in don’t do as they say or do. If you’ve watched the show as long as I have, you’ve learned that the guys sometimes put their feet in their mouths. An understatement to say the least, it’s worth noting that they are journalists and TV hosts. Not everything they say is what they believe.

However, they often got in trouble for voicing opinions during live tapings that were better left to themselves. One of the most famous examples led to a race from Palm Springs to the Mexican border crossing. It quickly becomes clear that always bears repeating. Choosing your words wisely will keep you from hurting yourself and others. It could also keep you from getting fired.

5. Best Friends are Family

I’ve touched on the importance of friends before. We all need them, and they often become parts of our families.

Clarkson, Hammond, and May are proof that middle-aged men need their tribes, too. The fact that Hammond and May willingly left their gigs at the BBC after Clarkson was fired is proof that chemistry is sometimes more magic than science. They followed their friend to what’s turned out to be a much greener pasture.

Best friends are the people for whom you watch sports you don’t like or see movies you abhor. They are the people you follow into the proverbial battle.

The last couple of years has been tumultuous for the three TV hosts, but they’re about to return with a new show, the Grand Tour. A devoted fan of Top Gear before they left, I’m excited for this new show. I know what my Fridays will look like for the next few months.

Photo Credit

Image by GioBert on flickr – Some Rights Reserved


Guest Author Bio

H. E. James, MBA
H. E. JamesHattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho. She has a varied background, including education and sports journalism. She is a former electronic content manager and analyst for a government agency. She recently completed her MBA and enjoys local ciders.

Follow Hattie: Twitter | Linkedin




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