The State Trooper and I

A State Trooper pulled me over for speeding. It feels like yesterday. It was several years ago.

I was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. My speed was between 25 and 30 mph over the limit. I sounded awesome singing along with John Mellencamp blaring on the radio.

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I remember seeing the Police Officer pulling his arm in the window of his car, a black radar gun attached to his hand. I just pulled over and waited. Mellencamp couldn’t help me.

The toughest looking trooper I have ever seen walked up to the passenger window and asked if I was in a hurry to get back to the office. Obviously he saw the company logo on the passenger door.

Without waiting, he asked if I knew how fast I was going.

I replied that I wasn’t sure, but that I knew it was fast. He didn’t ask for the car registration or my license. He simply said, “You better slow down.” Without another word, he turned his intimidating frame and walked away.

Fear turned to jubilation!

After my heart rate slowed, I became teflon™ Dan. “I can’t get a ticket,” I thought. This wasn’t the first time I’d been let off with a verbal warning. 

In the next three months, I earned three speeding tickets!

In order to protect my licence, I was “invited” by the Pennsylvania State Police to attend driving school.

5 Lessons from speeding tickets:

  1. Consequences say decisions matter. Life without consequences – either good or bad –  is meaningless.
  2. Consequences express compassion, when delivered with a person’s best interest in mind.
  3. Don’t feel responsible to help irresponsibility. Too much help doesn’t help.
  4. Deal quickly with issues. It’s irresponsible to neglect holding people responsible.
  5. Create an environment where performance is expected, enjoyed, and honored.

Motivation: Hold people to their decisions, because it’s best for them.

How might leaders hold people accountable in ways that serve them and organizations?