Are you familiar with the story of The Three Little Pigs? C'mon–everyone is! But just in case it's been a while, here's a little refresher:
A poor mother pig once had three little pigs and sent them off into the world when they were old enough to seek their own fortune. The first pig built his house out of straw, the second out of sticks, and the third with brick. The next day, a wolf happened to pass by and stopped first at the straw house. When the pig wouldn't let him in, he blew down the house and the pig fled to his brother's home made of sticks. But the wolf blew that house down too, and both pigs fled to the brick home. There, the wolf tried to blow the house down but fails to do so, and the three pigs escape the wolf's dinner plate.
I appreciate this story because of its symbolism, and over the last few years I've perceived it differently than I did as a child in order to help me understand the importance of having patience and persistence when creating a life that is meaningful and fulfilling.
Take the pigs and the wolf out of the story for a moment. Now, imagine your life laid out before you like the open prairie. As you move through life, you build structures on your land that tell your story. They represent your values, your relationships, and your goals. Some are made with straw; others with brick.
Straw structures are built hastily and without much thought. They’re the achievements that don’t require a lot of effort or commitment, and they produce immediate results that offer little satisfaction in the long-run. Oftentimes, these structures are easily blown over and rarely survive a storm.
On the other hand, brick structures take more time and effort to build. They require more patience and diligence and a greater investment than straw. However, they're higher quality, more stable, and prevail through the challenges in our lives. They’re what we build for ourselves overtime by laying brick after brick, day after day.
Many of us want immediate results and satisfaction, and so we resort to building our lives with straw because it's challenging to invest the time, effort, and commitment it requires to build something of significance. But everything meaningful and deeply fulfilling in a person’s life is the result of intentionality and effort over a long period of time–whether that be in relationships, personal character, or achievements.
No one runs a marathon the first day they run, writes a book the first time they sit down to write, cultivates a relationship grounded in trust and love on the first date, becomes a person of wisdom and integrity the day they're born, or builds a solid brick house in one afternoon. As you move forward and build your life with the materials of your choice, remember: anything can tear down a straw house, no matter how many you have.