Zen and the Art of Laying Bricks

One spring, quite a while ago, I was driving to a client's office and stopped at a major intersection.  Across the intersection, at the far side of a lot for a warehouse, maybe a quarter mile distant, I saw a few men standing at the corner of a new warehouse. They looked small, both due to the distance, and due to wall of the warehouse, which was probably 40 feet high and 300 or 400 feet long.

The next morning I was drove to the new client's office again, stopped at the same intersection, and I saw the men again in the same place. This continued the whole week: the drive, the intersection, the men at the corner of the warehouse wall.

Having established network access with the client and a program of work, I continued the job from my office, only commuting to the client once every other week. Two weeks later, I drove over. The men are there, but now something was on the wall at the corner of the building where they were. Though I wasn't quite sure what it was.

Two weeks later. The three or four men were there, but now the activity was clear: they were laying bricks. It was kind of a revelation to me, a few men, a giant wall, and each laying one brick at a time.

The work continued for the next few months, both mine and theirs. Every trip more of the wall was covered. The bricks were extending further and further down the wall. Scaffolding went up and then progressed down the wall. Finally, they had laid the baseline of bricks to the end of the wall.

Then I came by one morning, the men were gone, the scaffolding was gone. And a beautiful, bricked wall remained, and I've never looked at a brick wall again without thinking about these unknown men and the giant warehouse wall.

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the Narrator notes, "Caring about what you are doing is considered either unimportant or taken for granted.”

There has to be a vision, without that there would be no warehouse and no wall.

But visions become reality one brick at a time, by someone working diligently day after day, and week after week, at thousands of small things. And when they care about the work, and feel the reward of delivery, they can produce amazing results.

If you feel that your product is going nowhere, maybe you just need to go lay some bricks.