Did you ever hear the story about the police officer that was chasing a young man who he believed had committed a serious crime? The suspect was tall and fast, and the officer chased him through an alley, over a dumpster and through a convenience store. As the story goes, when the man jumped over a 12′ cinder block wall the officer felt he had no choice but to go over it too. Just as the officer was clearing the wall, the young man looked back, laid down, threw his arms out in front of him and yelled, “I’m not running anymore.”

Once the officer had the man in cuffs, he asked him why he had stopped running. The answer? “When you cleared that wall I looked back and could see in your eyes that you would never give up.” To which the officer replied, “When you cleared that wall I thought you would never give up.”

The lesson is the brick walls that block our way in life are there for a reason – to show us how much we want something. The story I shared illustrates this important truth – those who achieve their goals most often do so because they are willing to do what others won’t do. If you find you’ve hit a wall, ask yourself how much you want what lies on the other side. The wall may be telling you to try harder. The wall may be telling you to stop. But make no mistake, it’s telling you something. You just need to take notice but whatever you do don’t just run into it.

We’ve all had times when we seem to just keep bumping into a wall over and over…or like the other saying; we continue to “bang our heads against the wall.”  Not too smart is it? Walls, self-imposed, psychological or made of real materials like brick or stone, serve a purpose.  They are for containment of some type. Never does it make sense to repeatedly bump into them. The key is in making a decision to stay on the side you’re on, go around the wall or go over it. And while volumes and volumes of books and papers are written on this very subject, I’m only going to focus on the decision part.

I like the story above because it clearly demonstrates that if you know what you’re chasing and why you’re chasing it, a quick decision of how to handle the wall is easy. Rarely, the problem is that things are so clear. But things can be clearer if we take a little time and define what the wall is, if it’s containing us for good reason or keeping us from something we want. Recognizing the walls. Evaluating the walls. Measuring the walls. And making decisions how to address the walls is critical. We are all chasing things, but we may not be aware of what the thing is.  Or if we’re aware of what we’re chasing, we may not know why we’re chasing it. Sometimes you have time to strategically manage how to handle the wall and sometimes you have to make split decisions like the police officer in the story.

If I had to choose only one attribute that the most successful people I know have, it is the ability to make decisions and many times those decisions are about the walls that they have to deal with. Notice I didn’t say good decisions. Bad decisions are important for learning how to make decisions. Decisions can be changed. It’s the people who have trouble making any decisions that have the hardest time.  I think my father tried to teach me that lesson when as a child. He frequently said to me, “Don’t think, and just do.”  Now he wasn’t always being nurturing when espousing that statement, but it probably helped me decide to go over, go around or stay on my side of a lot of “walls.  How do you react when you come up against a wall?