What’s the brick wall you can’t see around?


One of my mentors often talks about the wall that people have and can’t see around and that got me thinking… why are we so good at building those brick walls, brick by brick, course by course?

Part of my role is to find out what walls people believe they have in front of them, the ones that they can’t see past or over and stops them doing their best work. I might show them there’s a chink in the wall, so they can see the other side and with that the wall falls away. Or I might help them find the sledgehammer they then use to tear it down. And for others I help them find the keys for the bulldozer and they simply drive right through it and don’t look back. This can be at an individual level or a board level where everyone believes they can see the same wall.

That perceived wall will stifle people’s development, their growth and their resilience… and not just them but it has the same impact on the business. And I use the word perceived because it’s simply that, it’s something they think is there… it’s really nothing more than an illusion but feels very real at the time.

So how do they knock it down?

  • It’s rare that someone can do this for themselves because they don’t recognise it’s there. They’re so used to the restricted views, the restricted movement and the restricted actions that its become the norm. So the first step is a facilitated session where the wall is revealed.
  • The next is eliciting what the wall is? How it came to be there and it’s purpose. Shakespeare recognised walls can be barriers and that we allow to stop us from doing the things that we want to do the most. Have you ever read or seen a Midsummers Night’s Dream and the play within the play of Pyramus and Thisbe?
  • Once we know the wall is there a few probing questions quickly identifies how the wall came to be built and how it’s grown. And then we can start to see the chinks in the wall. And the wall quickly starts to appear to be much lower and less stable and even starts to disappear.
  • But knowing there’s a wall and that we built it is one thing, being prepared to knock it down is another but how do we stop building another one? That can be through regular conversations or self questioning… every time you or the board thinks there’s something stopping forward movement stop for a moment and think about what’s really happening and what we can do… maybe breaking things down into smaller chunks that can be addressed more easily and allow progress a few steps at a time.
  • And it’s knowing that beyond the wall is the future… the things we really want to do and will make a difference. Having the faith, belief and confidence that it’s achievable and at the same time knowing that its what you really want. Another of my mentors says that ‘resistance is from a lack of clarity’ – maybe we’re not really clear about outcomes and targets and so we simply resist taking the action.
But how about this? What if we took the bricks and used them to lay a path… they stop being a deadend and can take us anywhere? And what if we showed others the same?

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