The first one through the wall...

I heard this said in a movie* once.

"The first one through the wall always gets bloody..."

This refers to the simple fact that when you are the first one to try something, run counter to what is currently accepted, or simply want to try to do something different, it can sometimes feel like you are attempting to crash through a wall. And when you have finally broken through that wall, you tend to be left exhausted, beaten up, and more often than not a little "bloody"... all figuratively speaking of course, although sometimes actual blood does get spilled. It also goes without saying that the people on the other side may not be so happy to see you.  

But how is this wall built... metaphorically speaking that is? That's actually an easy question to answer.

All you have to do is propose something... new idea, a new way of doing something, or fish instead of your regular Wednesday night cheese and bacon burger — Anytime you propose doing anything, a wall is instantly created.

Most of the time these walls are very small, insignificant and easy to crash through, sometimes they can be fairly tall and not so easy to get through, and every so often the wall is very, very high, and awfully thick. And although not scientifically validated, there is no doubt there's a correlation between how "different" the proposal is and how "high and thick" the wall will be. You probably already know what makes up this wall —

  • The establishment saying it can't be done, or doesn't want it done.
  • The fear of failure or the comfort with the status quo.
  • People not prepared to invest the energy to make it happen. 
  • A lack of understanding or desire to learn.
  • Personal gains that do not want to be given up.
  • A fear of change.
  • The need to challenge and pressure check ideas to ensure they are the best they can be.
  • Et Cetera...

Other than a nice metaphor and reference to a movie I like, there really is a point to all of this — Your "proposals" (and the metaphorical walls they create) are indicative of Leadership. Remember that by its very definition, "being first through the wall" means there will be a second, a third, et cetera to follow... and isn't that what Leadership is all about**. 

So the next time you say, "I propose we do this", remember that by definition you are building a wall, and the action you are taking to crash through is defining your leadership. Be bold, and crash through with abandon! 

There are people waiting to follow for sure.


* The movie is Moneyball and the quote comes from the owner of the Boston Red Sox as he is talking to Billy Beane. It's also a great book.

** Yes I know Leadership is a little bit more but this is only a 500 word blog, and I'm taking some artistic licence.