Once upon a beautifully snowy March morning, four neighbors went out to shovel snow, each in his own way, each in her own style.
Neighbor One carefully set to work with a wide-blade scraper, scraping away the snow one section of walk at a time, chipping off the icy patches, sweeping away the scattered bits with a stiff corn-broom, not moving on until each section was clean and proper.
Neighbor Two came with an assortment of tools—a flat-edged scoop shovel, two scrapers, one wide and one narrow, and a broom—and his eldest son. He surveyed the area to be cleaned. “Has to be done right!” he said, pointing toward Neighbor One. “Do ours the same.” And he directed the boy to get to work.
“Oh! Isn’t this wonderful!” Neighbor Three waved to everyone from her porch. “Snow’s perfect for tobogganing! We should organize a party at the hill by the lake!”
Just then Neighbor Four rushed out, scraper in hand, and, with a flourish, began plowing a path. Snow sprayed up, building against the blade. She tossed it to the side, then pushed on, breath puffing a series of vapor clouds. Suddenly she went back to where she started and fine-cleaned a section or two of walk. Then with another burst of energy, she pushed ahead again, clearing a narrow trail right to the end of the walkway. “Snow’s perfect for a snowman!” she called to Neighbor One, dropping her shovel.
“That’s why it’s so heavy today,” Neighbor One replied matter-of-factly without pausing in her work.
Neighbor Three was already rolling the beginnings of a large snowball. Before long she’d stacked three, one on top of the other, sculpting them into a figure almost as tall as herself. She added an old black hat, a carrot nose, apple mouth, and red plaid scarf, then tucked a worn corn broom into the crook of his snowy arm.
Neighbor One and Junior Two had by then finished their work and came to admire her creation. “You do have a gift for doing the most amazing things,” said Neighbor One, casting an eye toward Four’s less-than-perfectly cleaned walk.
“Think I’ll make a snowman, too,” said Junior.
Just then Neighbor Three called out, “Everyone’s meeting at the hill in twenty minutes. Come and join us!” Then she groaned. “But I was so busy making the snow sculpture for my neighbors to enjoy, and phoning around to everyone, that I didn’t have time to shovel the snow from my walk.”
“Let us help you,” said Neighbor One. “If we all work together, we can have it done in no time.” Even Neighbor Two came out to lend a hand.
“But, first,” said Neighbor Four, “I need to finish mine.”
Twenty minutes later everyone was heading toward the hill, toboggans in tow, with Neighbor Two leading the way. All were content, for each in his own way and each in her own style had achieved having a sidewalk cleaned to satisfaction.
Corrine Vanderwerff, PhD, is an author, speaker, and pastoral counselor.
Box 52714, EPO Eastgate
2020 Sherwood Drive
Sherwood Park, Alberta
T8A OK8 Canada
Web site: www.firststepministries.org
Editor’s Note: Many of the foolish arguments, meaningless controversies, and hurt feelings, that are so often part and parcel of the human condition, result from a misunderstanding of brain function. Each brain is as unique as the owner’s thumbprint. This means that no two brains are ever identical in perception and function, not even the brains of so-called identical twins! Knowing this can help you to avoid trying to either coerce or cajole another brain to acknowledge anything in the identical way that your brain perceives it.
Individuals who have completed the Benziger Thinking Styles Assessment (BTSA) may recognize the descriptions of the four neighbors as representations of four different thinking styles. Using Benziger’s labels they are as follows:
- Neighbor One - Basal left, prefers to work through things sequentially.
- Neighbor Two - Frontal left, prefers to make decisions and/or delegate responsibility to others.
- Neighbor Three - Basal right, prefers to have everyone involved and wants everyone to get along with each other and have a good time.
- Neighbor Four - Frontal right, thrives on variety, innovation, and doing things differently.