Jim Mahoney and the red brick hill

Jim Mahoney and the red brick hill


RedBrick Hill

RedBrick Hill is a metaphor for my life, my work, and my purpose. Grounded in the idea that life is full of many obstacles, but with encouragement and support from others, one can build confidence to overcome those obstacles.

Below, I share a personal excerpt from a childhood experience that forever shaped my life and the meaning behind RedBrick Hill.

As a child, I lived with my paternal grandmother in an area of our small town known as Boxtown. Some referred to the area as “the hill” because from the top you easily see most of the town below. One Saturday, when I was nine years old, my dad, who was visiting from the city where he worked as a machinist, took me to the Western Auto to purchase my first two-wheel bicycle. It was red and if I sat in the seat the tip toes of my feet would barely touch the ground keeping me balanced.

My dad let me ride it home, which was approximately a mile away. All was fine until I got to the bottom of “the hill,” which consisted of 600 feet of red brick followed by a left turn of another 150 feet before you reached our house and the top of the hill. My dad yelled from his car window, “Pedal hard, you can do this!” And so I started up the long red brick hill.

As each pedal on each side of the bicycle would reach its top height, I would push down hard for the other side to come up with just enough force to keep the bike moving forward. I was completely standing up pumping as hard as I could to make it up the hill that had a 45 degree angle. Each time, when I thought the bike was going to stop moving and fall sideways, I would push through another downward motion to keep the momentum going.

Out of breath and fully red-faced, I just kept going until I made the left turn and made it to the top of the hill. I was elated and tired when I made it to the front of my grandmother’s house. I had pumped my bicycle the entire red brick hill!

This singular event became a metaphor for every obstacle I ever had after that point. Though I couldn't express it, born in that event was the notion that to develop confidence you need to successfully complete something hard.

Pumping the red brick hill was hard to do. And while I physically did it, my journey was helped more than a little by the encouraging, insisting, and supporting voice of my dad—“Keep going! Don't stop now! C’mon, boy, you’re almost there.” That encouragement and support from him was always there.

Then and now, my life continues to be climbing yet another red brick hill. There were always obstacles, but support shows you how, encouragement says you can, and confidence comes from overcoming the challenge. But it started with the red brick hill.