The Neighborhood Stop Sign

There is a Stop sign in the neighborhood I have lived in for 10 years. And for a decade, I felt like the sole person observing the Stop sign. My children from the back seat would ask me why I am stopping, and we would have the same conversation, over and over: “Because there is a Stop sign” and the response “But no one ever stops here.” The sign was there, it was clear, but I was the misfit observing it.

Recently, I went out for a walk with my daughter and we were walking by the infamous Stop sign. The drivers were stopping. At first, my daughter was confused. She thought the drivers were lost or needed something. I pointed out, they are just stopping at the Stop sign.

I don’t know why suddenly people are observing the Stop sign. The sign is the same. The change was in the driver’s reaction to it. Is it because they are not rushing? Are more aware of their surroundings? Because they have been advised to drive carefully so as not to overwhelm the emergency rooms with injuries? I don’t know.

I do know that taking a moment to think, hesitating for a beat, can lead to better decision-making. And I know that the culture of an organization is less about putting Stop signs everywhere, and more about conduct allowed to continue. Policies don’t create culture. People do.