Do you know your purpose? - the story of three bricklayers

Empowerment Coaching Krakow Blog-the story of three bricklayers

The story of the three bricklayers is a multidimensional parable with its source in authentic history. After the great fire that razed London to the ground in 1666, the world's most famous architect, Christopher Wren, was tasked with rebuilding St. Paul.

One day in 1671 Christopher Wren watched three bricklayers on a scaffold:

  • one crouched,

  • the other half-standing,

  • and the third standing upright.

Everyone worked very hard and fast.

Christopher Wren asked every bricklayer one question: "What are you doing?"

The first bricklayer replied, "I am a bricklayer. I work hard laying bricks to feed my family. "

The second bricklayer replied, “I am a builder. I'm building a wall. "

But the third bricklayer, the most productive of the three, when asked, "What are you doing?" he replied with a twinkle in his eye, "I am a cathedral builder. I am building a great cathedral to the Almighty. "


There are many variations of this story available online, but each version is about three people working on the same wall, doing the same job, but looking at it from a completely different perspective.

There are many valuable analogies to be drawn from this story, both in our private life and at work. Among them, for example, three:

Start with a vision of the end - before you start any project, decide with yourself what you are going to achieve. What should the end result look like? How will you know that you have achieved your intended goal? What will be the source of YOUR satisfaction? No matter what others say.

Realize the power of your attitude - the right attitude and pride in what you do will be visible in your work and motivation. Making an informed choice and taking responsibility gives you strength and a sense of agency.

First, try to understand or explain the "Big Picture" - employees who are properly related to the company's values ​​and goals are more engaged, more productive, calmer, and more relaxed. You can even say that they are proud of their work and do not need to be motivated at all.


This story also leads us to a very important question about SEARCHING FOR MEANING. It was described beautifully and dramatically in his book "Man's Search of Meaning" by Viktor Frankl - an Austrian psychiatrist and psychotherapist who survived Auschwitz. This book is a heart-and-mind-moving story that presents the human behavior devoid of empathy, which the writer observed and experienced in the reality of the camp.

A concentration camp could break a man, turn a victim into a torturer. Disappointments and unimaginable suffering were the order of the day there. Every day it was about life or death. In the literal sense.

However, according to Dr. Frankl, evil and suffering cannot ultimately destroy a person, in a metaphysical sense. He noticed that those who had a purpose or a reason for living beyond themselves usually survived. While those who were mostly self-centered - no. The survivors managed to find meaning even in such a dramatic situation. And finding meaning has been to care for and help others through this terrible experience.

I encourage you to read this book. Perhaps it will also move you and will naturally make you remember the question about the meaning of your life. Perhaps, as a result of reading it, you will completely change the priorities that guide you in your everyday life.

See also:

On Mother's day

In a desperate search for happiness


7 Wonders of the world

Things aren't always what they seem

I am busy, therefore I am

What heaven and hell look like

Master and a full pitcher