Making Bricks or Building a Cathedral?

It seems like our actions, behaviors, and habits are products of our psyche, attitudes, and thought processes.  I find myself struggling from time to time with reprogramming my mind.  There should be no surprise by now when I think small or think negatively that slow progress or a lack of results is waiting for me at the finish line.  There should also be no surprise when positive thoughts and healthy self imagery lead to good times.

According to an old parable, three men were working hard cutting stone from large blocks of granite.  When asked what they were doing, the first fellow said, “I’m making bricks.”  The second said, “I’m creating a foundation for a large building.”  The third person answered, “I’m building a cathedral.”

All three of these men were performing the exact same task, yet they looked at their day-to-day actions with very different glasses.  I can relate our business to this parable.  I remember when I was “making bricks” as a sales person in 1998.  I was “jobing” my way throught the field at times as I was going through the motions – hoping that “things would just happen” and I’d get to the promise land of running my first business.  Days were going by and progress was limited.  It was El Nino in 1998, and there were plenty of days when it was over 110 degrees in Southern California.  Being new to SoCal (moving from Canada), I couldn’t stand or tolerate the wicked heat.  I love reading my journal back in those days.  Most entries started out with, “This sucks!”

I remember shifting gears when I heard a top Leader in the office (Katie) lead our team in a meeting about why she loves the field so much.  Katie:  “Where else can go out and make friends, make great money, get in shape, and get a great tan?”  It was a paradigm shift that I needed.  It became pretty clear to me why Katie was succeeding and I was stagnant.  At that moment I started “creating a foundation to build a large building”.  The field now represented a University Program for me that would allow me to interview people daily and educate myself in every way possible.  I found myself asking people questions, learning what it took to be successful, learning why some people failed, learning what successful marriages looked like, and so on.

It was when I hired Randy (a stud) that I started to “build a cathedral”.  I finally had a guy on my team that was 10x sharper than I was, yet he looked to me for leadership and guidance.  It was awesome.  I found my passion and realized that this whole sales and education gig was really my opportunity to develop people and to become a coach in business.  When this light switch went on, the field no longer could discourage me.  I was a man on a mission to build my own University to develop young adults in a business setting.

I’d like to say the rest is history, but I wouldn’t be honest with myself if I did.  I am in a much different situation now than I was in 1998, but I still find myself following the CANI principle:  Constant and Never Ending Improvement.  Part of that CANI is consistent reprogramming of my mind to think about building a cathedral – creating purpose and value in my work.

How do you look at your work?

How do you look at your day-to-day?

Are you making bricks?  Or are you building a cathedral?  

If you are making bricks, is it possible for you to reprogram your mind?  

I believe that if you can attach purpose and service to others to your work, you can dramatically affect your output and results.  Those results (inch-by-inch; day-by-day) have the chance to build momentum in your career.   And you never know – you just might build something pretty cool one day.

When keepin it real goes wrong…

A couple from Chicago was planning a vacation to a warmer climate, but the wife couldn’t join her husband until the next day, because she was on a business trip.  Her husband scribbled down her e-mail address on a little scrap of paper, but upon his arrival, he discovered that he had lost it.  He wanted to send off a quick e-mail to let her know he had arrived safely.  So trying his best to remember her e-mail address, he composed a brief message and sent it off.

Unfortunately, his e-mail did not reach his wife.  Instead, it went to a grieving widow who had just lost her husband, a preacher, the day before.  She had gone to her computer and was checking her e-mail when she let out a loud shriek and fainted on the spot.  Her family came rushing in to see what was on the screen:  “Dearest wife, I just checked in.  Everything is prepared for your arrival tomorrow. P. S.:  It sure is hot down here!”