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How Constructing a Bookcase Became an Analogy for Idea Fruition

Recently, there was a wall in our home that was calling out for a tall white bookcase. As it turns out, tall white bookcases are not easy to find in furniture stores where I live. Therefore, I went online, found one that seemed perfect for the area, and ordered it. A large, heavy box arrived on our doorstep a few weeks later. It was the unassembled bookcase. My husband and I dragged the box into the living room and left it there for an equal number of weeks. Neither of us felt like assembling the pieces. Eventually, my desire to organize, decorate, and place books in their new location overcame my inertia to assembling the bookcase. As I opened the cardboard box and began the next steps in making this bookcase a reality, I realized how putting together a bookcase is an analogy for bringing any idea to reality.

For example, I experienced the idea as a calling. It was followed by inquiry and action, only to be met with subsequent inertia, a tendency to stall or inability to change. It was also a time to rest and regroup for the next task, which I was unsure about starting nonetheless completing.


The analogy continues …


Once the desire to change and move on to the next step overcame the power of the unknown, I found myself standing over the opened cardboard box that seemed to cover the entire living room floor. The sight was daunting. All the pieces of the bookcase were separated and stacked on top of each other. It remained unclear how all of them would fit together to become the final product. Plus, I couldn’t initially see the directions, as they were buried under the pieces.

My first step was to gain clarity. I separated the pieces onto the cardboard that was now serving as a platform to build this object.

After separating the pieces and identifying what was present, I found the directions. They seemed simple enough, which provided momentum and encouragement to move forward with the project. I took a moment to pause, breathe, and see how all of the pieces would start to come together. I began making connections one step at a time noting how important the smaller steps were in securing the foundation for the entire structure.

It’s worthwhile to add that I decided to start this project on my own. I knew help was a call away, but I felt determined to do as much as I could on my own. Honestly and without judgement, I can now acknowledge there was a sense of pride in taking on this task. Additionally, part of me thought that it’d be easier to start this project alone until it became clearer to me what needed to be done.

As the pieces came together to form a wobbly framework that was barely sturdy enough to stand on its own, I recognized the need to ask for help. Otherwise, I risked damaging the project or adding unnecessary strain onto myself.

The help was definitely needed and useful. Nonetheless, there were moments when I silently acknowledged my frustration when it wasn't exactly what was expected. Mindfulness helped me in these moments. Pausing to breathe and collect my thoughts allowed me to see how teamwork and a shared commitment to the sense of purpose was helping forward our progress. Plus, this person cared for me and wanted to see my vision become a reality.

This awareness also allowed me to have compassion for all involved, including myself. It transformed my frustration into gratitude. It highlighted how I could be a better leader in this quest by identifying my needs and being clearer in my communication.

As our work progressed, we would change positions and maneuver the framework to add essential pieces that would increase its stability. As a team, we would take some time to assess the next approach. Part of this process included backtracking to make adjustments for the subsequent pieces to properly fit.

At the end of our construction, we shared a sense of accomplishment. We marveled in how secure the structure was with all the pieces fitting appropriately together. We moved the bookcase to its final destination, the wall that initially called for it. For a moment I thought of how another bookcase might one day replace this one and reflected on how items might be arranged on the shelves. However, returning to the present, I again acknowledged all the work we had accomplished. It was now time to celebrate our success.


Bringing an idea into reality begins with an initial vision that might be obscure to others. Nonetheless, we move forward in our belief of the idea. Then, we pause to regroup or deal with thoughts and feelings that can be holding us back from forward movement. The project can be all consuming. It can be unclear how the pieces will fit together, especially when there doesn’t seem to be easily available direction in how to proceed. As we sort through the pieces, though, the process and connections become clearer. We might gain additional direction at this point.

Eventually, it becomes apparent how help is required to further this idea into reality, to move forward more easily, prevent injury or harm, or achieve the goal more quickly. We might not initially be clear on the help we need or where to get it. Additionally, the support might not be exactly what we expect at first. However, we have the opportunity to gain clarity on what we truly need and how to communicate this with those who want to support us in achieving our goals. Eventually, the pieces do come together. The goal is achieved. The idea is a reality.

Life coaching provides clarity to bring such ideas to reality. It offers support in answering a call to action and achieving one’s goals.


What is calling you?

What stage of assembly do you find yourself in bringing an idea into reality?

What would help you move forward with your idea?

How could seeking out help or support further your project?

How can you celebrate your accomplishments?

Christie Masters, MD, is a physician and life coach based in Los Angeles. She offers individual and group life coaching and can be contacted at

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