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3 Surprising Lessons from Bricks

I think you can guess from the title that I was unsure of what to write this week. I'll be honest. I was struggling thinking about meaningful topics. I couldn't seem to focus. Analogies, metaphors, icons, I couldn't seem to land on anything that I thought was interesting and would matter to you as a reader. But I was committed to writing and so I kept looking and reading and thinking.

All of a sudden, through the reading and the thinking, a theme started to emerge, although it wasn't where I expected it would be.


These three beautiful and disparate stories about bricks appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

But could I really write about bricks?


I'll write about anything that matters and helps you and I live a more meaningful and passionate life.

So without further adieu...

The 3 Surprising Lessons from Bricks

1. Kobe Bryant, The Baron of Bricks

The first lesson about bricks is a metaphorical brick.

When a basketball player shoots the ball and misses, fans and commentators refer to the missed shot as a 'brick'.

Well, Kobe Bryant holds the record for the most missed shots (i.e. "Bricks") in NBA history!

He's missed more shots than anyone who's ever played the game, ever!

He's the all time best at missing the hoop!

This is crazy! Mostly because he's also highly regarded as one of the all time best basketball players as well.

How can this be, that arguably the best basketball player holds the record for the most misses?


The more shots you take, the more you're likely to score.

In the infamous words of the Hall of Fame hockey player Wayne Gretzky, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Kobe Bryant took shot after shot. Most of them missed the basket. But some of them went in. And he kept doing this over his 20 year career. Now he holds records as both the all time leader for missed shots and third for all time points scored in NBA history.

You really do have to take shots. Some of them you're bound to miss. Some of them you're bound to make.

Kobe took 30,699 shots over 20 years. He missed 14,435 of those.

That's just under 50% of his total shots being missed! Yet, he shot more than anyone else and so the other 50% that did go in made him a legend!

Fun facts from other high-performing legends:

  • The professional baseball player with the most career hits is Pete Rose, who also holds the record for the most Outs of any player in history.

  • The professional quarterback with the most completed passes in history is Brett Favre, who also holds the record for most interceptions in NFL history.

  • Science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard wrote more than 1,000 books in his life (more than anyone in history), but he also invented Scientology.

  • America's beloved inventor Thomas A. Edison has 1,093 successful patents including the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera.

It's clear as day that if you want to be the best, you've got to take as many shots as possible. Just expect that a significant portion of those will be "Bricks".

2. Laying Bricks Every Hour

You've undoubtedly heard the phrase that "Rome wasn't built in a day."

It's usually used as a means to encourage someone to continue making progress towards their big goals and to not give up during the struggle and tribulation encountered along the way.

It's an apt statement because the glorious and beloved city of Ancient Rome took centuries to build with multiple generations each contributing to the forward momentum of the progress.

Unfortunately, the elegance and splendor of the city often overshadows the hard work, patience, and tedium required to get it to where it was.

What is often overlooked is the fact that countless individuals were engaged in laying bricks down every single day.

They were constantly making progress towards their ultimate vision.

Not a single day passed where they weren't engaged in the forward pursuit of attaining their goal.

"Rome wasn't built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour." as James Clear states.

Rome is the ultimate outcome that manifests as a by-product of having a system of laying bricks every hour.

Laying down a single brick doesn't look like much.

Nor does it require much.

It doesn't require the strongest man, a superior intellect, or emotional awareness to lay a single brick.

However, when you stick to your system of laying a single brick for months, years, and decades on end, you can create something truly amazing.

It begs the question, what systems do you have in place that you can make progress on each and every day to get you one brick closer towards your ultimate vision?

3. Building a Cathedral

Our last lesson from bricks arises from 'The Tale of Three Brick Layers'.

A foreign man is travelling through an old city and comes across three men each laying bricks.

As he comes across them, he asks each in turn what they were doing.

The first man answers gruffly, "I'm laying bricks."

The traveler continues on until he comes across the second and asks him the same question, "I'm putting up a wall" replies the second man.

The traveler moves onward until he comes across the third and final man and asks again, "What are you doing?"

"Who me?" replies the third man, "Why I'm building the world's most beautiful cathedral."

The message is hidden in plain sight in our tale.

When engaged in a task, perspective matters a great deal.

If you're able to connect your daily actions to your ultimate vision, you're going to be a whole lot happier and find greater fulfillment in your work.

A similar story comes from JFK's life.

One day, JFK was walking through the halls at NASA when he came across a janitor sweeping the floors.

JFK stood in front of the man and asked what he was doing.

"I'm helping to send a man to the moon" replied the janitor.

Wherever you're at in an organization, your actions matter. Otherwise, you wouldn't be there.

You are contributing to the forward progress of the vision of that organization.

So what is the mission and vision of that organization and how can you take a moment each morning to connect yourself to it?

Wrap up

As you can see, bricks are at the foundation of greatness.

Kobe "Mamba" Bryant teaches us that in order to score more than anyone else, you also have to be willing to shoot more "bricks" than anyone else.

Rome teaches us that our daily systems are of paramount importance in leading us closer to manifesting our ultimate vision.

And the Three Brick Layers teach us that it is not so much what we're doing, but why we're doing it that truly matters.

Here's to you Shooting Bricks, Laying Bricks every day, and Connecting each brick to your ultimate vision!

Here's to you Actualizing Your Potential!


With gratitude,

Dennis McGinley

Founder and Performance Coach @ STRIVENT

"Actualize your Potential!"


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