I was cruizin’ down the freeway in my sporty red minivan when I heard the sweet young voice of my 8-year-old son from the back seat. He said, “Dad, why do they make cars go 120 [mph] when the speed limit is only 70 [mph]?”
I really had to think about how I was going to answer that honest question. I considered shooting back a question allowing him to think it through, but then I reconsidered. Instead I said, “You know what, Son, that is an awesome question. I bet we could talk for hours about that.”
Silence from his end confirmed that he was still waiting for an answer, so I said, “Sometimes you just need to go fast.”
Satisfied with that response, my little boy chuckled. We drove another 10 minutes in silence as I contemplated such a profound question. He enjoyed a movie on the overhead video screen which helped sustain the silence.
Please humor me while I throw down the thoughts that ran through my mind during those 10 minutes of silence.
My mind immediately conjured an idea of choice and accountability. Next, my thoughts landed on the concept of progress and innovation. Finally, I got stuck in a maze of paradigms until I eventually found my way to a conclusion that was both satisfying for me and totally relevant to my line of work.
Let’s think about my son’s honest question again as it relates to choice and accountability. Simply put, as a motorist, I have several choices as it pertains to speed. I can choose to travel slower than the posted speed limit, at the posted limit, or faster than the posted limit. If my vehicle only allows acceleration to 70 mph then my choices are narrowed. My accountability would be lessened as well because my option of breaking the speed limit would be eliminated. However, upon entering an area with a lower speed limit my choices would increase as would my accountability.
I next considered how the concept of accountability related to progress and innovation. It begs the question, if we never pushed our boundaries nor exceeded our limits would we find it difficult to blaze new trails and progress to something new and different? I believe that every choice has an associated consequence. Consequences may not always be desirable such as speeding tickets or failures, but lessons would also be lost in a world without choice.
The paradigm that finally released me from my driving trance was a thought about how humans are not honest with themselves. What I mean to say is that we often know the truth about something but the consequence is so frightening or embarrassing that we avoid dealing with it or tell ourselves that it isn’t true.
For example, imagine yourself walking along a sidewalk with very few people around. You step off the curb and twist your ankle causing you to fall to the street. Your ankle is sprained and your pain level is about a 10, 10 being the worst. A passerby rushes to your aid and asks you if you are alright. What is your initial response?
If you responded that you were fine, you are not alone. You also just lied to yourself and to that stranger. This example seems benign, however, consider the next few.
I see examples every day of how people suffer the ultimate consequence of not being honest with themselves. I see men die from heart attacks with half-eaten rolls of antacids in their pockets. I see people overdose on drugs who are checked into rehab centers. They tell themselves, “I don’t have a problem. I don’t need to see a doctor. It’s just a little heart burn,” or, “I’m not an addict, I can stop anytime I want.”
If only we were all as honest as an eight-year-old and could ask the simple questions perhaps we would avoid all the grown-up problems that get us into so much trouble.
Here’s my plea to you. Ask the simple questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. Be honest with yourself.
Visit your primary care physician often. Health care is so important that even the Federal Government is involved in ensuring that every person is covered.
Slow down on the roadways. Please follow the posted speed limits and do not drive distracted. It pains me to watch the electronic freeway signs post days without roadway deaths. We have not reached more than 6 days without a roadway death in the state of Utah since the signs began reporting those numbers about a year ago. Remember, Zero Fatalities.
Finally, be nice to each other. It feels to me like we’ve become a society addicted to being rude. I attribute that attitude to the fact that everyone seems so disconnected. Unplug once in a while and join a team. Interact with other human beings face to face. Care for a pet. If you can’t love somebody or something else, then you will have a difficult time loving yourself.
If you don’t believe me, then trust my eight-year-old. He’s honest and he’s always happy.