The Glass Block Story: Patience Pays Off

Anne Alexander

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I don’t know about you, but patience is not my strong suit. In most situations, I want to move forward in action. A few weekends ago I had an amazing experience that powerfully drove home to me, once again, the value of patience, especially when it comes to finding creative and effective solutions to our problems.

The beautiful wood lot next door to our house was recently cleared to put up two more homes. We knew it was going to happen sooner or later. On the window that faces the lot, we had a beautiful stained glass piece, however, the window showed through about 8” on either side.

Now, with the lot cleared, every time I went by the window, instead of beautiful greenery, I noticed raw earth, scraped by the bulldozer. It made me cringe every time. I am a big believer in the tremendous benefit of setting up our environment to support us. This includes all kinds of environments, like clients, friends, beliefs, food, etc. But in this case it was my physical/ social environment.

We had to do something to change that view out the window. I came up with the idea of a lightweight translucent plastic roller shade that would go behind the stained glass. Definitely tacky, but I was adamant I did not want to see construction for the next six months or look into someone else’s window for years after that.

Although this idea wasn’t the greatest, I didn’t see any other option and my perspective, as an impatient, action-oriented person was “Let’s just put up the shade. ”

Fellow “action” friends take note: sometimes action can be premature.

So what happened? We started tossing ideas around - an attractive Japanese paper shade of some kind, plastic film you stick on windows in bathrooms for privacy that still lets light through, even spray-on coatings.

Yet, we agreed, none were very aesthetically pleasing in our desire to create an uplifting, beautiful environment that would positively affect our daily performance and happiness.

To stimulate our idea process, we went to the local home improvement monster box store and cruised the aisles, trying to come up with a good solution. No luck.

Finally, frustrated and back home again, I noticed the glass block I had in my office. It simply sat on my window sill since I had nowhere to install it, but I had loved it for years. Was there some way to use the block?

We quickly discovered that the spacing was almost perfect – one column of glass block on either side would fill the gaps perfectly. The wave pattern made it so, while light came through, we didn’t really see what was outside, just some color.

Now we wondered how we would stack a column of blocks, without mortar. It turns out they make a plastic insert for just that purpose – dry-stacking glass blocks.

We bought some blocks and inserts and you would think that the window had been specifically planned for this purpose. I was amazed! The solution was perfect. Yet, in my initial rush to solve the problem, I would never have come up with this.

It was a wonderful lesson to me to:

1) take enough time to come up with the best solution, and

2) put your head together with one or more others to guarantee better solutions.

In this action-oriented culture, there isn’t much value placed on patience. Let us be wise and not make that mistake.

Copyright 2005 Anne Alexander

Anne Alexander is a coach who works with business owners, executives and professionals as their strategic partner to grow their business or career, improve their effectiveness and reach their goals. For Anne's free, popular 8 part e-course “Maximize Your Professional Success, " send a blank email to or visit


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