Winning Words

Thanks, officer: It's best to slow down

Column by Michael Norton
Posted

So 2,000 miles, 28 hours of driving time, more than 200 songs, a couple of bags of Big League Chew bubble gum, a bag of sunflower seeds, several waters, a few milkshakes and fast food burgers, and at least 12 cups of coffee later, we arrived back in Colorado after our vacation on the East Coast. The trip home was filled with productive calls with customers and family and friends, and - even more productive and inspiring - with some quiet time and reflection as I drove across the countryside.

I especially enjoyed the 20 minutes or so of quiet time as I waited for the Pennsylvania State Trooper to write my ticket for prolonged driving time in the left lane. I was professionally reminded that the left lane is only for passing, and politely reminded that I could have also received a ticket for being a little more than slightly above the speed limit.

At first I was a little annoyed that I was pulled over for something as petty as driving for too long in the left lane. You may know how it feels when you have handed over your driver's license, insurance, and registration to the policeman standing at your passenger-side window, and then he does the slow walk back to his car where he spends the next 15 minutes checking you out and then writing the summons.

But as I thought about it, I moved from feeling bad because I was caught or pulled over for something so minor, to feeling appreciative for being stopped by one of Pennsylvania's finest. Why was I in such a rush? The drive home was intended to be relaxed, make a few calls along the way, reflect on the time at the beach, and see a few sights along the way. I mean really, where was I going?

In the "Jerry McGuire" movie, we see an exchange between Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. where Tom Cruise's character is forced to play along and scream, "Show me the money!" And as I drove back onto the highway after the nice police officer sent me on my way, all I could think of was, "Show me the speed limit sign." And really not in a bad way at all - I wanted to slow my journey down so I could enjoy our time together in the car and take in all the sights and sounds of this beautiful country.

I wanted to keep pace and not crawl along, but I wanted to drive slowly enough to catch the corny and sometimes incredibly funny billboards that adorn our highways. There were a few classics, including one with an image of Yoko Ono and the caption read, "Would you trust your energy decisions to a woman who broke up the Beatles?" Not sure what advocacy group or competing energy company placed the ad, it was just very clever and it had me looking for more signs amongst the incredible rolling hills and farmland. And some of my favorite signs were the stark signs with a biblical verse or faith-based message. Nothing over the top, but incredibly powerful and inspiring, maybe just what I needed as I slowed the drive down just enough to take it all in.

Are you constantly in the fast lane of life? Do you need to be shown the speed limit signs in your own journey? Either way, I would love to hear all about it at gotonorton@gmail.com, and when we slow down to look for signs and inspiration, it really will be a better than good week.

Michael Norton is a resident of Highlands Ranch, the former president of the Zig Ziglar Corporation and the CEO/founder of www.candogo.com.