Why We Should Create Paths, Not Barriers.
On my walk today I came upon the above scene. Someone had plowed their driveway, and the excess snow had formed two high barriers obstructing the sidewalk. The snow had turned into solid ice, and it was directly blocking my path.
Was the snow left by the home’s owner, or was it left by a plowing service? It doesn’t matter, the result was the same. The individual’s needs were being met but at the expense of the greater good. The driveway was clean and open. The family had access to their garage. Their car could be protected from the elements. It didn’t seem to matter that they were creating a potentially dangerous situation for anyone using the sidewalk.
I had two choices; I could trudge through the snow of the parkway, or risk stepping over the mounds of ice. I choose the later, slipping along the way. The event made me think. In the US we are proud to be individuals. We strive to be independent. We celebrate free thinking. We honor those who we think are successful and powerful. In many ways, our country became great because of our entrepreneurial spirit. We read case studies of prominent business moguls. We recount rags to riches stories. We admire billionaires.
People become successful in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, sometimes it is at the unnecessary expense of others. In this subgroup, there are those who enjoy being in a position where they can make someone else’s life difficult. There are others who simply don’t care; as long as their objective is met the impact on those around them is inconsequential.
This self-centered focus occurs beyond corporate America. We see it in politicians who place their needs, or the needs of a small but influential group, before the overall good. We also see it in self-centered relationships where the individual’s objective is to always win and never to yield or compromise.
In most cases, it is better to think about the total impact of any decision, and to balance that decision based that thought. In the short term, the individual’s gain may be smaller by such a stance, but the overall gain will be greater. As humans, we must be aware of how our actions impact others. When that is not the case it creates unnecessary problems that not only hurt others, but often can come back and negatively affect us.
Removing the excess snow from the sidewalk would have taken a minute or two. A slight inconvenience that pales in comparison to the inconvenience of leaving the snow on the sidewalk. In my life, I want to create paths, not leave barriers, for those around me. I know that in the end we will both benefit.