The Story Behind the Brick Wall
In February of 2010 I erected the Brick Wall at wordpress.com as a communication channel for an inspiring blog entry I wrote during the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. This really is the end of the story, so let's rewind back to the end of 2008.
Like many, I found myself unemployed due to cutbacks resulting from the recession. My job search journey included reading Rebound: A Proven Plan for Starting Over After Job Loss. I found the book, and the book's author, Martha I. Finney to be welcome companions. Over the weeks following the read, I connected with Martha and developed a new professional connection.
As time would have it, I found myself still unemployed when Martha's next book became available. With her collaborator, Duncan Mathison, she authored Unlock the Hidden Job Market. In this book there was an exercise to define my motivations, abilities, and fits. (To fully understand these concepts, you'll need to read the book.) I proceeded to list my motivations, and instead of just listing words like excellence, results, and positive change, I challenged myself to come up with a definition for each motivation.
It is time for another rewind, this time back to 2007. At this time I had a superior criticize my methods for being too focused on perfection and utopia. This criticism struck a nerve with me as I didn't understand why anyone would not want to strive for perfection. After quite a bit of reflection over the next couple of years (and realizing that success can not come without failure), I changed my belief and re-identified that it really wasn't perfection I was aiming for, it was just be our best, and those things that prevented our best, were merely obstacles.
The pieces of my Number 1 motivation started coming together. One more rewind, this time back to my childhood, would be the clincher. The motto of the Merrillville Community School Corporation in Merrillville, IN is "We Strive for Excellence." Having spent 13 years in the system, this became more than a motto, it became a significant part of my ethic.
So now I had it, my definition of Excellence, Overcoming Obstacles in our Strive for the BestSM.
OK, time to fast forward back to February of 2010. As I developed my blogsite, I wanted a true identity, something that would set me apart from the rest, and include me in the best. Bob's Blog just wouldn't cut it. So I pulled my Number 1 motivation. The message in the motivation is ideal, but it was more appropriate for a subtitle. I had to come up with a catchy title. Well, I tapped into another characteristic of mine, which is metaphors. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I use metaphors to explain complex concepts. So, in this case, I needed a good metaphor for an obstacle. After exploring synonym after synonym, I chose a brick wall, for if it was in the middle of a path, it would certainly be a difficult and stubborn obstacle to overcome.
And that is how this brick wall was erected. Excellence is at the end of the path; it just may happen to be behind a brick wall.