Are you laying bricks or building a cathedral?

Are You Laying Bricks or Building a Cathedral?

It’s midday in the Sahara. The blistering sun beats down on the vast plains of the Libyan desert. It sears down on the gravel plains, the dry valleys, and the salt flats, the heat emanating from the earth in a hazy mirage. It beats down upon the jagged peaks of the Tibesti mountains, scorching the backs of the labourers who toil there.

On the highest peak of the mountain, two labourers lay bricks on a scaffold, one crouched, one standing, working hard and fast.

A herder approaches the bricklayers and asks them what they are doing.

The first replies, “can’t you see, I am laying bricks? The work is exhausting, there is no freshwater here on the mountain, and the scorching sun beats upon my back. Each day is the same, I am a slave doomed to a pointless existence, I place one brick on top of another, again and again, and for what?”

Unsatisfied with the first man’s answer, the herder turns to the second bricklayer and asks him what he is doing.

The second bricklayer’s eyes light up, eager to share his story. He replies with pride, “I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral to The Almighty. It may not be finished in my lifetime, but it will be the greatest and most magnificent cathedral the Tibesti has ever seen.”

The power of why.

What the two bricklayers are doing in this story is the same, the difference is that the second one has a sense of purpose.

Whilst the first bricklayer sees his work as pointless labour, the second sees his work as a calling. He is working towards a bigger cause, he shows up every day to contribute to something he truly believes in. His sense of purpose changes his entire perspective of his job, he puts up with long hours in the hot sun because he is endlessly inspired by the work he is doing. Even though that work might not be finished in his lifetime, he continues to show up because he believes in the vision he is working towards.

Are you just laying bricks, or are you building a cathedral?

Our cathedral.

It’s 2030. We’re a group of mentors, coaches, and content creators, dedicated to helping businesses thrive.

We help people build the foundations for success on a solid bedrock of financial strategy, our accounting services have become the jumping-off point for shaping wider business strategies.

We exist to help others design, plan, and build their own cathedral, to help businesses harness the tools and techniques to shape a solid organisation built to last.

For the past 10 years, we have worked to expand beyond our current definition of accountants. To be known as educators, mentors, facilitators, coaches, motivators, helping people shape the future of their businesses.

Instead of being seen as bean-counters and number-crunchers, we’re seen as guides, educators, supporters, and initiators, arming people with the knowledge they need to build their cathedral to new heights.

Laying the foundations.

To achieve our vision, we need to focus on our ‘how’.

How we can reflect on and plan for the future. How we can ensure the choices we are making are truly the right ones. How we can use our values and principles to guide us in the way forward. How we can actively work towards the future we wish to create.

After a whirlwind year, we need to slow down and take stock of our business before we jump ahead.

The year everything changed.

2020 was a reset button for us all. No matter where we were in our work or in our lives, life as we knew it ground to a halt. Businesses were forced to slow down, with many forced to come to a complete standstill. With nothing to do and nowhere to go, it felt like an apt time for reflection when all we could do was pause and take stock of our lives and our businesses, waiting for restrictions to ease, but of course, knowing they wouldn’t.

Whilst offices and premises shut their doors and staff were put on furlough, as accountants, we were busier than ever before. We suddenly found ourselves doing anything and everything we could to keep our clients’ businesses afloat.

When lockdown was first announced in March 2020, our mission shifted in a heartbeat. Projects and plans were put on hold, creative campaigns replaced with contingency planning, as we prepared to enter survival mode, with no idea of what the next chapter would hold.

It was now our sole mission to help our clients ride the storm. To eagerly watch and wait for the government’s weekly announcements. To educate our clients about new loan schemes and support packages as they were still emerging. To help concerned employers put their staff on furlough. To help businesses forecast their financials after a plummet in sales and to find the funding that would support them through the next few months. To offer our time, our guidance, and our expertise to help businesses innovate their models so they could come out the other side stronger. To simply be there as a friendly face, a helping hand, and a supportive shoulder in a time of confusion and chaos. To act as a rock and a guide and a small business champion through the flux and uncertainty of lockdown.

Building for better.

Over a year into the pandemic, the scramble for businesses to pivot and adapt has subsided, shifting to an emphasis on long-term change and recovery. Our frantic scrabble to help businesses survive has passed. For us, it’s the calm after the storm. After a whirlwind year, it’s now our time for pause and reflection.

As businesses prepare to gear up, open their doors, and return to some semblance of normality, it’s now time for us to stop and take stock of our own business. To plan for the road ahead, to focus on our infinite game, and to work to shape the future of Ashton McGill.

2021 is a year of transition for us. Our collective focus has shifted from the here and now to the then and there, from bricklaying to cathedral building.

As we move into an established business, our goal is to put the systems, processes, and foundations in place to bring the blueprint for our cathedral to life. To lay the foundations for a long-lasting structure that will offer shelter, security, and comfort for years to come.

That’s why we’ve decided to stop taking on new clients and focus on redesigning our services.

To embed our guiding principles into everything we do. To future-proof our purpose and put the foundations in place to carry on that purpose and philosophy beyond our own lifetimes. To maximise the value we provide for our clients. To fix the leaks and cracks in our structure and improve the things that aren’t working the way we’d like them to. To give our people the tools and space they need to flourish. To rebuild. To make more magic moments for our clients.

Our 2021 goal is to slow down, rethink, and redesign so we can build a better future. To make our services simpler, smarter, and more supportive. To make excellence a habit. To focus less on laying bricks and more on building our cathedral. And we’re sharing our story in the hopes that it might inspire you to do the same.