Breaking Through The Wall

The squeegee of window washer Jan Demczur is in the Smithsonian. It got there because of his determination and willingness to use what was handy on the morning of September 11, 2001.

The Polish immigrant was riding in a north tower World Trade Center elevator when a hijacked plane hit the building. The elevator came to a stop on the 50th floor. That's when Demczur and other stranded workers preyed open the door, revealing a solid wall.

Rather than give up, Demczur used his brass squeegee handle to hack away at it. He eventually broke through the wall and lead the group to safety just moments before the tower fell.

Got a wall to break through in your life? There's probably a tool at your disposal that will deserve a place in the Smithsonian if you are willing to work with what you've got and refuse to give up.

Stephen Goforth

A Sense of Urgency

You are your own worst enemy. You waste precious time dreaming of the future instead of engaging in the present. Since nothing seems urgent to you, you are only half involved in what you do. The only way to change is through action and outside pressures. Put yourself in situations where you have too much at stake to waste time or resources – if you cannot afford to lose, you won’t. Cut your ties to the past; enter unknown territory where you must depend on your wits and energy to see you through. Place yourself on “death ground,” where you back is against the wall and you have to fight like hell to get out alive.

Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

unlocking closed doors

Houdini was a master magician as well as a fabulous locksmith. He boasted that he could escape from any jail cell in the world in less than an hour, provided he could go into the cell dressed in his street clothes. A small town in the British Isles built a new jail they were extremely proud of. They issued Houdini a challenge.

"Come give us a try," they said. By the time he arrived, excitement was at a fever pitch. Houdini rode triumphantly into the town and walked into the cell. He proudly walked into the cell and the door was closed. Houdini took off his coat and went to work. Secreted in his belt was a flexible tough and durable ten-inch piece of steel, which he used to work on the lock.

At the end of 30 minutes his confident expression had disappeared. At the end of an hour he was drenched in perspiration. After two hours, Houdini literally collapsed against the door--which opened. Yes, it had never been locked--except in his mind. One little push and Houdini could have easily opened the door. Many times a little extra push is all you need to open your opportunity door. Most locked doors are in your mind.

Zig Ziglar, See You At the Top

The Less Traveled Road

Briers below and limbs above. Avoiding them slows your walk. There's a log to step across. Here's a hole to avoid. Yet with your every step you come closer to seeing wonders few will know. The question is: Will getting past those obstacles below and above really be worth the surprising revelations you'll encounter? Choosing to walk the less traveled road may mean periods of intense loneliness and nagging doubt. There is the path of comfort and conformity and the path of adventure and self-definition. Your choice. 

Stephen Goforth