The Wall of Awful with Brendan Mahan

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This time I’m hosting Brendan Mahan  - an ADHD/Executive Function coach, a veteran educator, and the host of the ADHD Essentials podcast. We are going to explore the "Wall of Awful"  - a model he created to helps people better understand the emotional toll that negative thoughts and repeated failure have on their ability to take risks and initiate tasks. While the Wall of Awful applies to any life aspect, I find it EXTREMELY relevant to entrepreneurship.


  • What IS the Wall of Awful? And how does it explain why anxiety happens
  • Wall of Awful in professional and personal relationships
  • The 5 ways people try to get past the Wall of Awful: two that don’t work, one that works but it’s damaging, and two that are effective.
  • Hulk-smashing through the Wall of Awful – does it work, and what’s the emotional price?

Brendan on the pain of disappointing others:

“Once we disappointed someone, whether they know it or not doesn’t matter. All the previous disappointments are wrapped up in there. It’s about how we perceive things, about our emotions and perspectives.” (Tweet that)
  • How the Wall of Awful provides a concrete way to talk about shame, frustration, and other emotions tied to failure, making these feelings easier to navigate and ultimately resolve.
  • Unintentionally building a Wall of Awful for other people – how to avoid it

Marina on dealing with Awful:

 One of the most productive ways to deal with the Wall of Awful is to climb it (Tweet that)
  • Changing our emotional state as a way of putting a door in the Wall of Awful - by  transforming the environment (on the outside) or by shifting our way of thinking (what would Gary V do? Heck, what would Batman do?)
  • In the world of entrepreneurship we bump into Walls of Awful… what’s the opposite of “few and far between”? How amazing would it be to recognize these Walls and have the tools to get past.


In the beginning stages of business 80% of your time and energy are spent… battling your own emotions. Not the practical activities of setting up a business, building a list, getting exposure, hiring, or serving clients.  These all present themselves, sure. But the emotional component is so overwhelming, and paralyzing, and distracting, and painful, and… I can go on with the list of adjectives.

Just think – what if you have the ability to find a door out of this emotional state. To get to the other side where it’s calmer.  This is what Wall of Awful model is about.

About Brendan:

Brendan Mahan, M.Ed., MS. is an ADHD/Executive Function consultant/coach, veteran educator, and host of the ADHD Essentials podcast.  Brendan works with adults, children and families to address the emotional, academic, lifestyle and career effects ADHD has on the lives of the people who have it, and those who love them. His "Wall of Awful" model helps people better understand the emotional toll that negative thoughts and repeated failure have on their ability to take risks and initiate tasks.  He can be reached at  Learn more at

You can find him on

Brendan's Free E-Book:
5 Ways to Overcome The Wall of Awful