Author's Note: This is the title story from my book, "One
Shovel Full - Telling Stories to Change Beliefs, Attitudes, and Perceptions,"
and also from one of my most successful
Workshops. I've told it to thousands of people in workshops for major companies
throughout the World. People love hearing it, and have often quoted
the message back to me. I hope you will like it to.
Kathie and I moved into our first
home in January of
1970. It was a new house that we had purchased for about $28,000 (which
seemed like a fortune to us at the time) and we were very excited about
being able to fix it up...make it look really beautiful...make it our home.
After the rainy season was over we started on the backyard.
We had purchased a truck load of beautiful used bricks that had been part
of an old brick works chimney that had been torn down to make room for more
houses. The bricks were over 100 years old and we were excited about having
some local history as a part of our landscaping. Once we had the bricks,
and a plan on how to use them--a small brick patio outside our bedroom and,
a retaining wall across most of the backyard--we quickly figured out that
we were going to need a lot of sand to complete the job.
About ten miles from our home was a very large sand quarry, so early one
morning I took the kids and we drove out there to buy some sand. When we
got to the quarry I saw the dispatcher's office (actually a shack) on the
far side of a small parking lot, I parked next to it and went inside.
The dispatcher was an older guy with a friendly grin. "What can I do
for you? You lost? Need directions?" He said, as I entered the office.
"No. We're OK." I gestured out the office door to my car with
my three kids sitting patiently inside. "We were wondering if we could
buy some sand?"
He looked at me like I was crazy. "Only if you want enough to fill
one of my dump trucks."
At this precise moment another man walked into the office, smiled and said
to the dispatcher, "There's nothing for me to do here today, Bob. I'll
check back with you tomorrow."
The dispatcher looked at him, then he looked back at me--and I saw a light
go on over his head.
"Joe...how'd you feel about taking a load of sand by this guy's house
on your way home?"
"Where do you live?" Joe asked.
"Near the corner of Blossom Hill and Cottle....About 10 miles from
"Wow! Thanks a lot." I turned to Bob and asked, "How much
do I owe you?"
"You can have the sand, consider it a gift, I don't know what Joe wants
for delivering it."
"Got a spare six-pack?"
"Sure!" This was working out just great.
Bob reached for his mike, "Sam you there?"
"Could you bring a shovel full up here and drop it in Joe's pickup?"
"On my way."
Within a couple of minutes the biggest earth mover I ever saw came around
the corner from the quarry. The tires alone were twice as tall as our car.
I could see the kids (Jeff 10, Jon 7 and Bryn 4) pointing out the window,
exclaiming with excitement. Attached to the earth mover was a scooper big
enough to hold Joe's truck with room to spare. Joe's truck was as large
a "pick-up" as I'd ever seen. The scooper was only half full,
but it held enough sand to fill the truck, enough sand to fill our driveway.
Sam drove that monster machine like he was part of it. Before I knew it
he was next to the truck, dumping his load. Wham, bam, thank you Sam....I
don't think he spilled a shovel full on the ground. I stood there and watched
as the truck bounced up and down on it's shock absorbers a couple of times,
awed by this quick turn of events.
Joe hopped into his truck and hollered, "Lead the way!"
That snapped me out of my reverie. I jumped into our station wagon, started
it up and quickly shifted into gear. We headed home, me, the kids and Joe
following with all the sand I needed to finish up the backyard.