Whenever I confronted problems while growing up, I would cross Harvey Avenue to visit my friend, Mr. Lee. On this occasion, I had failed at getting a lawn-cutting job in the neighborhood. I was disappointed and frustrated. I had tried very hard to become a young entrepreneur in the lawn care market in Merchantville, NJ, and I have failed. Seeking solace, I went to see my friend.

Mr. Lee sat me down in front of him and began telling me about the Great Wall of China. He said that the Wall stretched over 3600 miles-which is wider than our country. He also told me about the towers and gates scattered along the twenty-five foot high Wall. My friend explained that the wall was designed to keep out the Mongol invaders from the North. Then he added with a sly smile, the Great Wall was seldom breached.

After capturing my imagination, Mr. Lee then related a story about a Mongol general who ordered one of his lieutenants to attack the wall near Beijing. The lieutenant tried and was repulsed. The young lieutenant reported that that he had failed. The general again ordered him and his troops to breach the Wall. Again, he tried with the same results. The lieutenant returned to the general and announced that the task was impossible. The general replied, "You need to go one step beyond the impossible wall. If you do, success will be yours."

The young lieutenant went back to his tent and thought all night about how he would take "one step beyond the impossible wall."

At first, he was mad at his general, but as the night wore on, he started to think about new strategies. As the sun rose above the desert, the young lieutenant had an idea. Off he rode to the Great Wall without his troops. After several hours, he returned to his camp. The next day, he told his troops that they were going to take "one step beyond the impossible wall." That day, the young lieutenant breached the Great Wall of China. Proudly, he sent word back to his general with his good news that he had done the impossible. As the entire army followed through the Wall, the general rode up to his lieutenant and inquired, "How did you succeed in doing what had been impossible for you?

"I took one step beyond the impossible wall. I bribed the gatekeeper," the lieutenant replied.

As Mr. Lee recounted this story, he looked at me and said, "Allen, what is true for the lieutenant in China is equally true for you in Merchantville.

Here are some suggestions that will help you take "one step beyond the impossible wall."

  1. If your task is important, it is important to do your homework. Before you begin, develop a well thought-out plan of attack.
  2. Attack your objective with confidence. Go out into the fray believing that you will succeed. A positive mental attitude is critical.
  3. If the task looks impossible because you failed, try again and again. If the task is a worthy one, it probably will take many attempts. If you accomplish a goal the first time out, you have probably aimed too low.
  4. Each time you fail, rethink your strategy. What have you learned from your failures? Then, incorporate what you have learned from previous failure into your amended strategy. With your updated approach, resume the acquisition of your goal.
  5. Believe in your ultimate success. You chose your goal. Therefore, it is important for you. Believe in obtaining your objective.

All these steps will assist you in going one step beyond the impossible wall. In the years since Mr. Lee's story of the breaching of the Great Wall, I have often succeeded getting through the invisible wall-only when I followed his advice. I always failed when I didn't. Make Mr. Lee's advice work for you.