Be the Neighbor on the Right


I run without headphones. I love the clarity, peace of mind, and observations that can be absorbed from the world around me. Like this one. On my run this morning, I noticed a few of these blocks of snow that had gone un-shoveled throughout my neighborhood. I spent about a mile wondering why these were present in a few spots, and always in the same location – right at the start of where a driveway ends and the sidewalk begins.

After a bit of pondering, I realized what happened. The neighbor on the left shoveled his driveway and went back inside. However, the neighbor on the right not only shoveled her property, but also went on to shovel the sidewalk in front of her neighbor’s property. She made it all the way to the edge of her neighbor’s driveway. The only reason the neighbor on the right couldn’t get this last bit up was because the neighbor on the left had piled it up too much from throwing the snow from the driveway off to the side, so it was packed down with too much ice.

A few inspiring themes gained from this observation:

Look out for others.

Back to the basics of the Golden Rule on this one. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You never know what challenges your proverbial “neighbors” may be facing. There may be good reason why the neighbor on the left could only do as much as he did. Contribute to the fullest of your capabilities in every situation by lending your strengths and generosity to others.

Go the extra mile, regardless of what those around you are doing.

Although the neighbor on the left stopped at the driveway, that did not deter the neighbor on the right from doing more. It would have been easy for her to say, “Well he didn’t help me out, so why should I help him?” How many times have you heard something similar at your workplace? The only behavior you are in full control of is your own.

Don’t just “move” your problems – resolve them indefinitely.

Shoveling the snow off one high-traffic area and leaving it in another high-traffic area only made it worse. Now it’s impossible to get it up at all. Don’t just jump to the quickest short-term solution, but also consider the longer-term implications.

Whether at work, home, school, the grocery store, wherever – I think we can all learn from the neighbor on the right and strive to emulate the same behavior and overall mindset. Which neighbor are you going to be today?

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