Yesterday was the last session of my pilot program for people who want to write a non-fiction book, Cover-to-Cover Power. I bid the budding authors farewell with this quote because I knew they were facing brick walls. And you know what? That is OK.
Brick walls are commonplace when there is a mammoth task ahead. And yes: writing a book is a mammoth task. That is also OK, because any worthwhile endeavour, whether it be birthing a baby or building a house, requires effort. And more than that: the best of you.
But mammoth as it might be, it’s not the task itself that is the brick wall. No, no. That is the tricky thing about brick walls: they fool us into thinking that it’s the mammoth task that’s stopping us. We attack the mammoth task head on and then wonder why the brick wall is still standing.
That’s because the brick wall is something far simpler.
When you face the wall, you are facing the decision: will you do this, or will you not?
That is what is stopping you. A decision to proceed, or turn around and go back where you came from. (There is also a third option: keep staring at the wall forever and ever in a never-ending existential crisis. Ach – you don’t want know anyone like this, let alone be like this.) If you turn around and go back where you came from, it might not be so bad. It is, after all, quite comfy where you came from – it’s why you spent so much time there. And if you decide to proceed, what then?
A story goes that Yehudi Menuhin was asked whether playing the violin at his standard was difficult. “No, it isn’t,” he said. “It is easy.” After decades of learning, practicing, refining and performing, you might think it becomes easy like it did for him, but that is not what he meant. Making the decision to become an excellent violinist was the one decision to be made – the one brick wall. Learning, practicing, refining and performing aren’t decisions by themselves; they are just what you do when you decide to become an excellent violinist. It is easy.
That is what is on the other side of the brick wall.
Whether you are writing a book or writing a blog, changing a life or changing a lifestyle, face that wall. Then lift your foot and take a step.