Build Above Ground


Everyone judges construction sites. We say “this is coming along quickly” or “this will never finish.” When judging construction, all we care about is what’s above ground. Only when we peer between the fence and look closely do we care about what’s below ground. Construction can seem endless because of all the time spent working below ground on the foundation. This is true of work in general.

People don’t care about your foundation, your accreditation, or how you are improving yourself unless it shows. These things are important, they are just below ground. They are the foundation of your work.

People care about what you build above ground: your accomplishments, your career, your results. It is not that these things matter more objectively, they are just what people see.

I often fall into the trap of caring too much about the foundation. I work too much below ground and don’t build enough above ground. I say to myself “if only I had the skills to do X, then I would be successful.” It’s a lie.

You can build a building with a weaker foundation. It is more likely to fail, but you can only get the knowledge of where it fails by building above ground. Your next building will benefit more from this than an improved foundation.

Building more foundation doesn’t mean that your building will never fail. Once you try, you could still fail. The only way to prevent failure is to never build above ground.

Instead of building a shaky building above ground that might fail, I continue to work on my foundation. Foundation is important, but if you never build, you never create something other people need and value. You build below ground for yourself, and above ground for other people.

Endless foundation building will get you nowhere. Build above ground.

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