Why good people hit the wall

Hitting the wall is a well-known phenomena in almost any field where you have freedom to exercise initiative. If you are in sales or marketing at any level, or in almost any management position, you have seen someone hit the wall and splatter or you have done so yourself.

This generally happens to a self-motivated person who has managed to succeed in spite of all obstacles put in his or her path. They push through one barrier after another and succeed even while others may be telling them to stop making waves. Just when it seems they are unstoppable, they hit a barrier they can’t overcome.

People on a collision course with the wall manage to extricate themselves from one dead end after another, usually by finding another employer who needs their particular skills and likes their can-do spirit. They continue, even though it takes more out of them each time.

This seemingly ideal employee learns from their mistakes in most areas and becomes more effective and at the same time, more fearsome to their immediate employers. In effect, they become unstoppable. Once launched on a course of action, they will drive through any obstacle to carry out the mission they have been given, using the rules they have been given to work with.

Those of you who have read my earlier posts will see a pattern emerging here.

This kind of employee will attempt to drive a project to completion no matter what hidden agenda has been put in place by corporate executives. They are enthusiastic “Attila the Huns” who take their orders and run with them, and they create fear in all who feel threatened by their campaigns.

These unstoppable warriors operate effectively because they know their subjects and are willing to work incredible hours to meet their commitments. For the most part, they only understand dedicated people like themselves. They don’t know and don’t care what motivates the other 95% of the population.

This ignorance can be fatal.

While these hard-driving individuals are surmounting one barrier after another, they are oblivious to the resentment that may be spreading in their wake. Eventually, while pushing a project to completion, they will make a move that casts light on some senior executive’s private folly.

Shortly after that, they will find themselves publicly discredited and summarily fired. The reasons will be most plausable, because they have probably bent many rules getting their jobs done. The people who work with them will know they got a raw deal, but they wisely take the firing as a warning to keep quiet.

The bottom line is that you hit the wall in your career because you set yourself up for disaster. You worked unbelievably hard, denied yourself family and vacation time, and somehow you were betrayed by those you trusted.

Perhaps this happened before and you shook it off and continued on your way. When this happens enough times, you lose your will to continue. You can be so despondent that you never want to work for anyone else again. Even the thought of interviewing creates so much pain that you cannot confront getting another job. You have hit the wall…

This is the end…and a beginning. Whether you know it or not, you hit the wall because of things you didn’t understand. This can be a turning point in your life or a dead end. It is your choice.

You have been given an opportunity to confront your own mortality and lack of answers. What you do now will affect the rest of your life.

My next post will discuss what some people, including myself, have done after we hit the wall. You might find some of these examples from life useful for someone you know.

Stay tuned.

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0 Responses to Why good people hit the wall

  1. Ellie says:

    Sometimes you hit the wall for no other reason than that it was there and you weren’t looking–it popped up without warning. You end up in a fleshy lump of shock and surprise. Everyone saw it but you. So you sit there, rubbing your bruises, staring at the wall like one of those mosaic paintings that transforms into something else if you let your eyes glaze over.

    I never could see what everyone else claimed they saw. Still can’t.

  2. David says:

    You have stated the problem accurately. People hit the wall because it was there and they weren’t looking.

    I tried to cover the most obvious reasons good people weren’t expecting a wall to be there in front of them.

    There are many more, but most are beyond the scope of what I can address in this weblog. In any event, one has to pick oneself up and go on.

    I will be suggesting a few ways this has been done successfully.

  3. Having hit the wall a couple of times, I now tend to be more aware of the agenda’s around me and take a more pragmatic approach to a lot of things. Its not a nice feeling to discover that the guy you thought supported you was actually undermining you for his own security, but it happens, and the interesting thing is that it usually catches up with them in the longer term.

  4. Carrie says:

    Yup. A new beginning indeed 🙂

  5. Denny says:

    Heraclitus: “All is flux, nothing stays still.” And again, more poetically: “You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you.”

  6. DrOfAvarici says:

    I noticed when I was head over heals in the air the rug I was standing on was gone. Now as a business owner I am scared of those people like me. However the only reason why I own a business is because the bosses couldn’t be trusted. Now I try to create the environment for those driven people to succeed. Pray I can keep the rug still.

  7. The MacNut says:

    Boy, what a balancing act an employee has to put on. Either they’re not working hard enough to satisfy their coworkers and managers, or they’re working TOO hard and embarrassing and annoying those same people.

    And either course can get one fired.

    It seems to me like the middle ground between those two courses is like a meandering river whose exact course is always changing, and whose bank is laced with mines. No wonder more and more people are bowing out of the whole “corporate career” path entirely and starting their own micro-enterprises. At least then they just have to worry about keeping customers satisfied.

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