Based on a text by John Kramp
“Every wall is a door. Let us not look for the door and the way out anywhere but the wall against which we are living.”
Since hearing these words, I’ve been pondering the implications of this idea for leadership, business, and life.
Implication 1: Assume the wall is the door.
When facing a wall, my first assumption is that the wall blocks my progress. But what if that wall is actually a door that leads me to something unanticipated? What if that wall actually provides the only door to where I need and want to go? Overcoming my initial reaction to walls as hinderances to progress will require me to think differently. But if I change my assumptions and view each wall as a door, I will definitely react, think, and act different.
Implication 2: Ask how the wall is the door.
I know walls when I see them. Until now, I’ve never forced myself to ask, “How is this wall the door?” Yet in my experience, walls have often been doors. Professional challenges have often directed me to breakthrough solutions. Business crises have forced me to consider options I would have never evaluated. Painful changes have ended up opening new possibilities. I’m not saying it’s always easy to figure out how the wall is the door. I do believe it is helpful and power to ask the question.
Implication 3: Consider why the wall is the best door.
If a wall includes a built-in, clearly visible door, I’m going through the door. As I do so though I submit my journey to whoever decided to place that door in that location. But what if the door-maker’s path limits me? What if his door points me to the easier path that leads me far from what I might have otherwise discovered? Isn’t it possible that the better things, the scarcer treasures would be less visible to the common traveler, hidden on the other side of the wall with no apparent access? I can view the wall as my best door because it will lead me to what is different, overlooked, and potentially valuable.
Implication 4: Count the wall a good gift.
What if the wall opens the path to opportunities? What if the wall is the only lens through which to see what would otherwise not be seen? What if the wall is purposeful, personal, a friend, and a guide to direct you to good places? If so, I should welcome walls, not because they block me but because they point us in the direction of discovery.
Implication 5: Prioritize walls over doors.
In business, differentiation rules. So how did the entrepreneurs, the builders of small businesses, and visionary leaders of great corporations find their breakthroughs? They went through a wall. This doesn’t mean they blew up the wall. More than likely, they did not discover a door in the wall others had overlooked. Instead, they faced the same wall others had seen and saw something different — a way in which the wall itself was a door to an opportunity. Open doors offer little of value. If you want a sustainable difference for your business, pick a wall.
The Hope of the Wall
A few years ago, I hit a professional wall that resulted in a new direction in my career. The experience unsettled me initially and caused me to question many things. Looking back, I now see how that wall was my door. Days now are far different from my life on the other side of the wall I hit, but I love life on this side of the wall. Much remains to be done. The path forward is less predictable. But all is well with my soul. For me, the wall was the door.
What about you?
Is the wall you are facing today your door?