I am a huge jigsaw puzzle lover. I mean, I could spend entire day(s) connecting weirdly shaped pieces and looking for their right place in the bigger picture. The more puzzles I did the more I realized that the principles which get me through any puzzle can be adapted and used to create a successful team and organization.
Principle No 1: Everyone fits
In jigsaw puzzle every single piece has a place. From the very beginning I know that all of them will come together to make a nice picture. There are no “broken”, “incorrect” or “badly shaped” parts. Every single bit has its own specific shape to be able to connect with others in its own way for a bigger purpose. From the very beginning I have a positive attitude to make it work.
Principle No 2: Look from a different angle
When I do a jigsaw puzzle, I make sure that I can walk around the table and have a few convenient locations to work from. Why? Because things look different from another angle. Yes, I know, I’m stating the obvious, however it’s too often forgotten. I often smile when I walk to the opposite side of the table and find some pieces, I was looking for quite immediately. It’s not that I did not notice them previously, it’s just that somehow, they look differently here, or the entire picture looks different from this side. Every person has his/her different sides as well. If we look at them from the exact same position it will be very difficult to see their new qualities or hidden talents.
Principle No 3: It is essential to take a step aside
There is a moment in a process when I start knowing the majority or the pieces, especially more exclusive ones, but that does not help to find their places. It feels like I’ve tried to put them where they “should definitely fit”, more importantly, I start “knowing” where their place “should” or “must” be… And yet this does not work.
In such moments it is essential to take a break and to distract myself. To divert the brain with something totally different or even opposite so that it could “forget” all these “shoulds” or “musts”. It is crucial to have a break at these moments in order to be able to give a fresh look to the things I believe I know.
Principle No 4: Be open to surprises
I often believe that I know what kind of piece I am looking for: either in terms of the shape or the colour. And I am often right. But many times I am very wrong. There are instances where my knowing simply does not work. This became very obvious with the puzzles of so called “smart cut”. I had to forget many things I know about jigsaw puzzle because the pieces were so funky that even for me it was a WOW moment. It was funny to see how, for a split second, I was accompanied by anxiety. Why? Because it was new, I did not know all the answers and I did not feel such an expert as I thought I was. I had to admit it’s gonna be a learning path 😊 With these funky pieces my imagination and my creativity got fantastically tested. Quite often I was amazed to end up fitting in the pieces that I would have never thought of. But here they were: perfectly sitting and laughing to my face. These moments showed me my own limitation and reminded me that only open mind can create unique things.
Principle No 5: Patience is a key
This truth is as old as the world and still we get new chances to experience it. Jigsaw puzzle can look overwhelming in the beginning: the whole lot of tiny weirdly shaped things. It’s obvious that they all are interconnected but it is not clear how long it will take to find those connections and how much effort it will require. There are moments when I am stuck, when I’ve tried all the pieces which, according to me, should have fitted but I am proven wrong. Then my patience and persistence come into play and I start testing every single piece which could fit in that specific spot purely based on the shape requirements. And I’m not talking for one or two pieces, I’m talking about tens of them. It always works. Always! As a reminder that every effort pays off and that dedication prevails.
Principle No 6: Get to know yourself
Once again, I was proved that a jigsaw puzzle is an awesome tool to look at myself. Of course, it tests my patience and persistence. It checks whether I grant myself enough time to enjoy the things, I really love. At the same time, it allows me to notice how my brain works. I was always sure that I connect pieces mainly based on the color scheme and the picture. Lately I realised that it was only supplementary skill. The shape and its structural connectedness were leading. I am a structure builder, a connector. I do not spend too much time looking at the picture on the box and analysing the details. Somehow, I grasp the right bits and connect them together. In a way I’m not even sure how I do that. Often it feels that I am not even controlling the process – it just happens. By itself. Some things are so natural to us that we do them effortlessly. We don’t call them work, we don’t even notice them as talents, because they are “so simple” to us. Noticing and identifying these things is help us to find our best place in our main jigsaw puzzle which we call life.