Shoveling Snow: What the Blizzard of 2017 Taught Us About Discipline

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. – Hebrews 12:11

The path to success is rarely paved with gold or laid out with a red carpet. More often, it looks like our driveway this morning in upstate New York – covered with about two feet of snow.

We don’t have a short driveway. In fact, as driveways go, ours is probably longer than average. The cars were covered, barely visible. I knew that a ton of shoveling was in my future, but I delayed starting.

How often do we delay getting to work just because of the enormity of a task? 

Einstein told us that we can’t solve a problem at the same level of thinking that created it – so after attempting to melt the snow with my eyes, I finally laced up my boots, grabbed the shovel and pushed the first pile of snow to start a path out of our garage.

Submit to the task, and the proven process to achieve success.

It felt good to get started but, as I looked down the driveway, I realized that this was going to take a while and began to get disheartened.

The first steps are always the hardest – focusing on the end-result over focusing on the process can be a big mistake. 

Eventually, I got into the groove – shoveling paths down the sides of the driveway, then systematically clearing the middle. It wasn’t fun, but I enjoyed seeing the tangible evidence of my hard work.

Always focusing on the task at hand can break any enormous undertaking into bite-sized pieces. Remember the old adage: a journey of 1000 miles begins with one step!

Half-way down the driveway, I began to get tired, and realized sweat was dripping down my face despite the temperature being in the teens. It felt like time for a break, but I could see the end – I pushed on.


The Navy SEALS have a rule: when your mind is telling you that you’re done, you’ve really only used 40% of your actual capacity. They have found that the will and physical limits of the human spirit can yield much more than we think is possible. This is why 99% of people that start a marathon finish – they push through when their mind tells them to quit. This is also how my wife and I persevered in getting out of $65,000 worth of debt – even when it felt like a hopeless task. Going through boot camp at the Navy’s Recruit Training Command was no joy-ride, but every time I could feel myself tiring and wanting a break, somehow I persevered. Humans are like that – there always seems to be more gas in the tank.

While boot camp was tough, every moment endured is a moment I look back on now with pride.

Compared to that stuff, shoveling a driveway is easy. The end of the driveway was tough to break through, but I did it.

Overall, the entire shoveling time clocked in at about an hour and a half, but freed up the rest of our day without the mental burden of not being able to leave if we had to.

The peace we have now far outweighs the work needed to achieve it. 

We’ve all experienced this in different walks. Whether it’s shoveling driveways, losing weight, working out, getting out of debt or saving over the long-term, or rebuilding broken relationships, these things are hard, and often downright painful to endure.

But the hardship is always worth it, and can certainly produce peace for those who have been trained by it.

There’s work that needs to be done – what are we waiting for?


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