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Reframing the Brick Wall

Early in my career, we were hanging out with some friends on a nice fall evening. My buddy Evan had a new house he and his wife had recently moved into and they wanted to barbeque for everyone. It was really a great night. Unfortunately, while heading into grab something from the kitchen (all transparency intended, it was most likely another beer) I got distracted and looked away then headed in the door. What I hadn’t noticed was the person in front of me had closed the screen and I walked right into it. Epic fail on my part. Big oops…I totally didn’t see it coming. I made the assumption they’d leave it open and, in my distraction, destroyed their screen.

Have you ever run into a screen door? What about a brick wall? I mean like full speed, face first, humiliation level, crashed into a brick wall? Very few people find joy in running into a wall face first. Let’s be honest, it’s not at the top of the list of ‘must-do’ things.

While very few people would intentionally run into a wall like Kyle here, we do find ourselves from time to time hitting the wall in our personal or professional lives. I can think of two times in my life, professionally, where I really slammed face first into the wall. In both cases, the obstacle in front of me seemed unfair, insurmountable, and debilitating. Those ‘brick wall’ moments can cause you to second-guess yourself, lead you to play the blame game, and feel like a huge setback in your career. But what if those brick walls were put in place for a reason and you were meant to hit that wall?

I had an amazing conversation with a friend this week. She mentioned that the brick wall (her words, and I’m grateful for them) I ran into that led to me leaving my superintendent position was the reason for launching fully into our work at Road to Awesome. She said to me, ‘you were MEANT to hit that wall, you NEEDED to hit that wall in order to do what you’re doing now’.

The brick wall can feel like something being done to us. I know I sure felt that was the case. I’m not a big blame person, there were plenty of reasons for the last brick wall, full shares of ownership to go around. But it wasn’t until my friend Janelle told me the wall was not placed to stop me but rather to redirect me to my true purpose that I fully embraced the experience.

Janelle was asking me to think about how those brick walls placed before me to redirect me, not to discourage me. We are rarely given a challenge we cannot overcome. They may seem inconvenient, disappointing, or a disruption. But those brick walls often appear in front of you as guardrails moving your closer to your true purpose. Eventually you break through that wall or emerge on the other side of the challenge. It will all be worthwhile and will reveal its true nature in good time.


Have a #RoadToAwesome week


Tune in this week to “Leaning into Leadership” where my guest is leadership coach and consultant Beth Napleton.

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