I read that sticker on the dashboard of a U-Haul truck countless times as I drove 1,236 miles to move my family.
As the miles and hours passed over two days, I pondered the phrase.
Wax philosophical with me for a moment. This is important.
Technically, I concluded, speed does not kill.
What kills is the loss of blood and function from fatal impact.
Speed can certainly be a causal factor for accidents, which can cause fatal impact.
But if you’re going to blame death on one causal factor, why not move further up the causal chain?
Can we not just as easily say, “Driving kills”? And why stop there? What causes us to drive?
In my case, my family and I decided to move. Does moving kill, because we drive to move and we may speed while driving?
And what about the factors that led to our decision to move, the causal factors set in motion long before we ever got on the road to move?
If we can blame death on one causal factor, we can logically blame it on any causal factor — none of which are technically true causes.
Here’s what is true: Choices and actions bear consequences. Wise people learn to foresee consequences and act accordingly.
Says wise man Viktor Frankl,
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”
Read that quote again, will you? And a third time, slowly and carefully. Let it really sink in. It is one of the most important quotes you will ever read in your life.
Live as if you could foresee the consequences of your actions.
Saying “Speed kills” is like saying “Infidelity causes divorce.”
But what causes infidelity?
What will be the long-term consequences of how you treat your spouse today? What can you say to or do for your spouse today that will bear the fruits of love and joy decades from now?
Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had seen what happens to your marriage as a result of how you treat your spouse today.
If we say, “Speed kills,” we can also say that addiction ruins lives.
But trace addiction up the causal chain and you ultimately arrive at one choice in a portentous moment. One indulgent moment leading to another and another, character and willpower eroding with each choice.
What are you putting into your mind and body today, and what will that ultimately cause? As my friend Kris Krohn says, “I don’t have to stick my head in a garbage can to know it stinks.”
Live as if you were already living for the second time and as if you had stuck your head in the garbage can the first time. You know it stinks. How does this change your choices today?
Every thought, every choice, every act is a seed. Seeds take root and bear fruit.
Ultimately, there are only two kinds of fruit: misery and joy.
Misery seeds are deceiving because they feel good when they are planted.
Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had seen the fruits of the seeds you are about to plant now.
Indulgence may feel good now, but how will it feel later? Sacrifice may be tough now, but what will it produce later?
Speed doesn’t kill. But it does, like all our actions, carry consequences.
Stephen Palmer is a writer and entrepreneur devoted to helping people conquer limitations, maximize their potential, and achieve true freedom.
He is a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, the founder of Life Manifestos, and the author of Uncommon Sense: A Common Citizen’s Guide to Rebuilding America.
He co-authored the New York Times bestseller, Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. He is also the co-author of The Conscious Creator: Six Laws for Manifesting Your Masterpiece Life.
Stephen and his wife are raising their four children in southern Utah.