[#66] Building A Brick Wall and The Power of Metaphors

What are your thoughts on brick walls?

Oh. You’ve never had a thought about brick walls? Wait, really? You’ve been missing out.

Let’s change that.

The metaphors and analogies that we use to describe situations in our lives say a lot about how we feel internally about said thing. When used correctly, metaphors can empower us, give us direction, and provide stabilization during times of adversity to continue to strive towards our common objective. When we use analogies or metaphors that make the situation appear dire, we add another layer of stress and/or mental turmoil that might result in complete derailment from the goal we are trying to obtain.

Now, how in the world can a metaphor cause you to give up on something? They are only words right? You know the old adage, don’t you? Stick and stones may break your bones, but words can cause you to fail entirely. Erm, maybe I’m a bit off with that quote. It’s definitely something like that, though.

Let’s look at an example. Pretend for a moment that you’ve had your heart broken. If you’ve ever had this happen to you, you no doubt remember how difficult it is to process the influx of constant thoughts pertaining to the person in question that you are missing.

“Why did this happen to me?”

“Why don’t they love me?”

And while the power of the questions you ask is an entirely separate blog post in itself, you’ve likely used metaphors before to describe your life situation. Try these on for size:

“He broke my heart into a million pieces.”

“She crushed me.”

“He stabbed me in the back.”

Compare this to “he broke up with me”. Which is more painful?

Let’s take a quick step back before we examine these further and briefly discuss the job of our subconscious mind. Remember that your subconscious mind constitutes all of the thoughts you are not currently focused on. This includes your skills, life experiences, memories, and your beliefs. The words we use, conditioned over time, shape the parameters of our internal world and help or hurt us depending on the type of messages we are sending.

Down to the most primitive level of analysis, humans are designed to either run towards pleasure or push away pain. If there is a choice, we will always choose to run away from pain over staying for pleasure; it’s a survival instinct, after all. Make sense?

Now, think about it:

If your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend “broke your heart into a million pieces”, what level of pain might such a metaphor be equated to in your subconscious mind?

What if someone “crushed” your heart?

We’re 100% aware that your heart was not physically crushed. You are alive, so that can’t be the case. That isn’t the issue at hand. What you must understand is that the level of pain or pleasure associated to the metaphors you are using have an innate ability to change the way we feel or respond to situations.


Truth be told, we could write an entire book on the power of metaphors in relation to where we’re trying to get in life. It would be ideal for each and every viewer to take some time throughout the next week to try and identify some of the phrases or words that they say to themselves that may be a part of the problem. It’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to find success when your thoughts are working against you. Control your metaphors, and you’ll give yourself a fighting chance.

Now, onto the brick wall. Metaphors and analogies can also be incredibly empowering, and the metaphor of the brick wall is a great place to start.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Identify what it is that you’d like to accomplish over the next 6-12 months. As long as it’s meaningful, the task itself does not matter much. It simply has to be something that you want.
  2. Second, and most important, you must identify the ONE behavior that is going to move the needle in the direction you’re trying to go the most. This, again, takes on an individual meaning for each person. It might be exercising everyday, or it might be checking the SEO on your startup website. Whatever it is, the same principle applies. You must know the one thing that is going to get you where you want to be more so than anything else.
  3. Last, equate one “brick” to each time you complete the act that must be done. Each brick is a step in building the foundation of the outcome you desire, and over time, will render you a solid brick wall.

What’s powerful about this brick wall metaphor?

Well, think about it.

Do brick walls get knocked down very easily?

Can one build a brick wall they are proud of over night?

Is the builder usually pretty proud of his handy work at the end of a long week of laying bricks?

And lastly,

What happens if you miss a day of laying bricks?

Does the brick wall disappear if you don’t lay bricks for a day?

No, it doesn’t.

All too often, we focus on the things that we aren’t doing- our “failures”- to the point that we become so disoriented that we forget what we were striving towards in the first place. Successful people understand that it’s not necessarily what you do over the course of a day, but over the course of time. Yeah, you’ll miss a day somewhere along the lines. It’s not possible to live a life where you’re at 100% all of the time.

Your brick wall will still be there tomorrow, ready for you to pick back up and lay more bricks. Ready for you to strive towards the outcome you wanted in the first place.

Yours In Laying Bricks,

Coach K

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