Property Line Living

Shoveling with my friend Beau Carlson – because friends who shovel together have bad backs together!


Question: Did it snow recently where you live?

Most likely you’ve been hit by either heavy snow, piles of leaves, or other needs to clean up around the yard.

In the past week I have received more emails, texts, and messages on Facebook about “Property Line Living” than any reference I’ve written about in a long time.

Friends letting me know they are valiantly living the principle from my book: The Promise of Service.

As we celebrate Christmas this week, may we continue to see others around us, and consider doing away with Property Line Living.

Here is a segment from the book, “The Promise To The One”, starting at pg. 117.  I hope it makes you smile and think, maybe read to family and share with friends, and then…SERVE!


Chapter 7


One promises much, to avoid giving little.

—Luc de Clapiers


In suburbia there is a phenomenon that occurs with each and every season. I call it “Property Line Living.”


When it snows in the winter, I look outside after 9:00 a.m. and can see who’s on my team and who’s not. One neighbor usually has shoveled his driveway, walkway, and steps, and then there’s the sidewalk…which is shoveled exactly to my property line.  


I glance over at the other neighbor’s home and see the snow piling up.  


I know both neighbors have kids capable of doing the shoveling. Both are able-bodied families that can do whatever they want with their property and their snow!  


Yet I have found it fascinating what happens each time I’m the first one out to shovel, before any neighbors, as to the feeling I experience inside.   


It is a battle within.  


Usually, I am in a hurry to get my driveway, walkway, steps, and sidewalk portion cleared. If I stop at the property lines, I feel physically sick about it. I feel I have somehow let my neighbors and community down. Those days, when my schedule calls or I’m late for a flight, I rush off having done only my property.  


And then there are the days when no one knows my schedule, whether I have a flight out or not, when I could easily take as much time as I want to just do my own property’s snow removal or help the neighbors out a little.  


If I have the time and there is nothing else to rush off to—I’m still not sure when, where, or why I made this Promise—but I shovel beyond the property lines.  


After clearing my own snow-covered responsibilities, I work my way to one neighbor or the other’s sidewalk portion. Eventually, I clear their smaller driveways and steps. Rarely have I been caught in this act of service, and only once that I recall in 10 years has either of them said anything publicly about it.  


The magic snow removal fairy is a simple Promise, but a Promise indeed.  


It’s more for my own peace of mind and sense of community than anything else.  


The concept and perception that we are in Property Line Living country doesn’t resonate with my spirit, so I make it a point to smash that whole notion to bits and create my own version of being a neighbor.  


When I am shoveling, especially during the winters we’ve had of late, I feel complete joy and gratitude about the water that must be filling the reservoirs in our mountains, the snow falling that will attract visitors to our state, and the exercise it is for my body. To be outdoors, to enjoy a nice audiobook, classical music, a TED Talk, or my religious leaders speak in conference—this fills my soul.  


Service is a major part of The Promise and should be a top priority in your living The Promise lifestyle.  


Whether it’s shoveling your neighbors’ snow in the dead of winter, raking their leaves in the fall, or sweeping the water away as spring makes its way to the gutters, there is service all around us that needs not be divided by property lines.  


The world is divided in its view of others. So often we stand in our place, seeing suffering on the news or challenges others face, and we feel that we can only do so much. So instead of sending a check to the orphans who are starving, we turn the channel to escape our sadness and find a place to laugh.  


I am guilty of this—and even have served as the person to create the escape and laughter!  


I am grateful to have this gift of making others smile and forget their worries, and at the same time I feel the responsibility to serve whenever and wherever possible, as much as I can.  


Perhaps this is why the property lines division and connection resonates to such an extent for me.  



If I can’t change the world over there, at least I can serve the world right here.  


The Promise of Service is active helpfulness.  


It is getting involved, lifting the downtrodden, and even giving to those who aren’t in need, such as my neighbors, just because serving lifts your own spirit and brings you joy.  


The question is: Do you find ways to serve, and if so, how often?  


If Service isn’t a Habit in your Promise lifestyle, then what are you doing with your life?  


I have never served another and thought, “Well, that was a waste of time.”  


I’ve certainly felt, “Well, they didn’t appreciate that!” or “I’m sure they could have done that themselves!” But I do the service mostly because I Promise to Serve. 


Enjoy the rest of this powerful Chapter, and the entire book, by clicking HERE


“Wait a minute, who shoveled our sidewalk?”  After 10 years you start to wonder.


jason hewlett 

Leadership Coach * Virtual Keynote Speaker * Speaker Hall of Fame

The Promise To The One


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10 thoughts on “Property Line Living”

  1. Another gift of service is to clean the snow off your co-workers’ cars. What a joy it is to come out of work after a long day at work to find your car cleared of snow ❤️. My snow clearing fairy was Terry, and I’ll never forget

    1. Ha! So right and so true. Well said and yes, that is a wonderful surprise and gift from Terry! Merry Christmas Cindy!

  2. I loved this Jason. You have captured the idea so cleverly – Property line living – that it is now stuck in my head forever. : ) I have found that your assessment is right on. When we serve, whether someone could do it themselves or whether they appreciate it or not, we are lifted. As a full-time caretaker, I have daily opportunities to serve and to translate that service however I want to. It is expanding my soul. Expansion can be painful but in the end, it will be worth it. : ) Thank you.

    1. Thank you Mary Ann, it certainly is a “sticky” idea and hopefully won’t be forgotten. Especially as we really live it, it becomes that much more powerful.

    1. The ATV with plow helps big time! I had one years ago but have only had the shovel since. You’re a good man to do that for your ward, what a guy! I know for certain that is something you’ll always be remembered for.

  3. I love this excerpt from your book. I can totally relate! It reminds me of a time when I was about 16 where my dad and I were shoveling some of the walks in our neighborhood. My dad had served as a bishop in a previous neighborhood and there was a guy a block away who I know didn’t care for my dad. As we were on our way to shovel the walks for our home teaching family a few blocks away, we stopped and shoveled the walks for the guy who didn’t care for my dad. As a teenager, I thought “Why would we shovel the walks for a guy who didn’t like him?” I now think of this service every time someone talks about shoveling walks. It was a good example to me.

    On another note, I found your new book on Audible and couldn’t have been more excited!! I only listen to Christmas music from November 1st- December 31st. But your book is the first on my list of listens for 2021. Can’t wait!!! I appreciate you and all of the amazing content you put out. Merry Christmas to you and your family!


    Ben Huff

    1. Wow Ben, what a great comment and amazing story, love this. Thank you for sharing and hope you enjoy the book in the New Year! Really appreciate your kind words.

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