Brick by Brick

No matter how impatient you feel, lasting progress is achieved brick by brick. This morning was spent moving bricks from my back yard into a toy trailer pulled by a toy tractor and driven by a 5-year-old. The easiest way to get the bricks close to the driveway was chunk them over the back fence one at a time.

I know that sounds tedious. It was. It was still the most efficient way to move them given the terrain and the equipment available. And I lucked out. My job was to keep the little kids occupied. No heavy lifting for me! That’s not to say I had a cool job. It’s blazing hot by 9am. And tedious though it may be, one piece piled on another piece, carefully placed atop another piece is a solid way to build accomplishment in any endeavor.

Some of us continually avoid the brick-by-brick building because we prefer excitement or fun. We like the adrenaline rush of winging it. But if you build a solid base, you can wing it, play in the moment, and still get good results. If you don’t build a solid base though, winging it can have disastrous results.

Why do we feel such reluctance to systematically tackle the difficult in our lives?

I’m sure the answer varies for everyone. If you have lots of anxious energy, you may feel like you’ll be bouncing off the wall in five minutes. If you are distracted, it may be hard to focus on one step at a time. If you’re motivated by deadlines, there may not be one. If you lack confidence, you may not feel you’re up to the task. You may not believe you have time.

But often, it’s like putting off doing the dishes. It’s not our favorite thing to do. We put it off. As time passes, we add dishes and the task grows. In our minds, it grows exponentially. Then it feels too big for the energy we have left.

The problem doesn’t lie in the size of the task or the particular job. It lies in the tricks our minds play. You may do dishes without hesitation but put off lifting weights. You may even know somewhere in the back of your mind that once you get started it won’t seem like a big deal any more, but still you stop yourself.

Nike’s ad people got it right when they told us to “Just Do It.” And that’s the thing about building. You have to just get on in there and take the first step. Do not hesitate.

If you still feel reluctant, offer yourself a series of rewards along the way. Focus on how you’ll feel when you get done with today’s brick. Brag to your friends on a regular basis. Tweet your own praises daily.

Break the task into the smallest pieces, then give yourself whatever you need to lift that first brick. The second will be easier. The third will be easier still. It’s never the lift we imagine it will be.

And as we lift and stack, we gain forward momentum. We begin to see progress. Progress feels exciting. Excitement keeps us motivated. Soon, we’ve built a forward-moving machine that will take us where we want to go.

Brick by brick builds walls, stairs, health, fitness, family relationships, knowledge, organizations, wealth, faith, hope, kindness, compassion, and joy.

Now you know what to do…it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”