Big Green Signs



When I began driving at 16, I received some sage advice from my older brother. He had a solid year of experience dominating motor vehicles at that point, so his wisdom was appreciated.


“When you drive into Chicago and get lost… Look for any Big Green Signs and follow them. Big Green Signs point to big highways. If you freeze out of fear – afraid to make a wrong turn – you’re dead. Literally. Your evening will turn into a real-life version of Judgement Night…. Good luck. Don’t die.”



Judgement Night was the 1993 flic starring Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Denis Leary. Four friends go to a boxing match and to avoid heavy traffic, they take side streets and saunter cluelessly into gang territory.


They witness a murder and because gangsters don’t like witnesses from the suburbs… they now must die!


The rest of the movie is rather predictable.


I followed my brother’s advice sooner than predicted. That evening some friends and I went to a Chicago Bulls game. To avoid the Madison Ave gridlock after the game, we tried to get creative. We ended up in a neighborhood four 16-year-old kids from the ‘burbs – driving in their parents’ new car around midnight, no less – had no business being in.


At the first sight of Big Green Signs, I made a beeline towards them.


Where are you going?

What highway is that? 

Where will it take us? 

Gary, Indiana is worse than Chicago, man!


The ranting from my backseat drivers was a cacophony of fear, but I blocked it out. I was focused on the Big Green Signs.


The highway did take us towards Indiana. We then doubled back, courtesy of other Big Green Signs, towards central Illinois. Eventually we headed north towards our northwest suburb. Instead of a one-hour trip home, our route took three.


But we learned.

We were lost and made a move.

We followed a Big Green Sign.

You’re not always going to have all the data. There will always be more questions to answer. Yet another survey isn’t going to truly eliminate all the uncertainty.


In your personal and professional life, sometimes you simply have to follow a Big Green Sign and commit.


See what happens.

Don’t let fear stop you from acting.


Worst-case scenario, you learn.


Big Green Signs in your life will help you avoid Judgement Night in the short term. In the long term, you’ll look back fondly at your decision to act instead of putting it off to Judgement Day.






Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a  training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.



Categories: Jobsite Leadership

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1 reply

  1. Nice way to explain the concept! Thanks.

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