I did something recently that I haven’t done since I was a kid. I put together a jigsaw puzzle. This wasn’t a small feat by any means – it was a 1000 piece 20 x 26 monstrosity – a landscape of multiple hues of reds and greens…and in my mind it quickly became an analogy of my business. Now that was scary because I knew I could not fail! Once I started putting those pieces together, I had to finish – no matter how long it took. And along the way (and over several weeks), I learned a lot about myself and how I’m growing my business.
I struggled from the beginning – I could not fit the edges together. I thought I had them all in place but the framework wouldn’t connect. I counted the pieces to see if some were missing (yes, I counted all 998 pieces and realized I had probably made a mistake and missed a couple). I thought if I can’t get the foundation together, how can I possibly complete it?
Then I realized I did not have to do it alone…I could get help from an expert. My son’s girlfriend, Kaela, loved puzzles and she quickly found my error, explained how it’s happened to her before, and I was on my way again – with a solid foundation.
With so many pieces and in similar colours, I became adept at looking for specific shapes to fit and learned to tune out the colour schemes. By looking at the outer edges, I’d find a match, and ignored what I thought would be a good fit by my first impression. I had to slow down and never force them into place.
At times, my frustration level escalated. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the right piece – in any section. So, I would walk away…sometimes for several days. And always, as soon as I returned, the pieces would quickly fall into place. I needed to take time off – change my perspective. When I returned, I was more objective to see what was right in front of me all along.
When I looked at all the tiny pieces spread over the table, it felt like a daunting task, but I realized I did not have to do it alone – and it did not have to be completed overnight. Soon, family members chipped in. When they had time to spare, my daughter, my husband, and Kaela slipped pieces into place. Patience and teamwork simplified what seemed like a daunting task.
There’s always a breakdown before you breakthrough. In this case, it was my five-year-old grandson who accidently broke off the entire bottom section of the puzzle – with less than 100 pieces to the finish line. It was not his fault by any means and it was not a big deal. I had fit those pieces together once and I knew I could do it again, and I did, quickly. In fact, it helped me build momentum that in no time I had the remaining pieces in place and the puzzle was completed…almost.
One piece was missing…and I had struggled to find that one piece from the outset. It was a single piece near the bottom left corner, an odd shape that was mysteriously missing. Perhaps it was never included in the box when I purchased it…or perhaps Riley (our dog) or Franklin (the cat) ate it.
I did the best I could with the pieces I had…and I had to be grateful for that. It did not have to be perfect – I felt good about my achievement. My daughter, Janelle, summed it up well. She said, “You never finish learning in life…there’s always one more piece.”
While attending a retreat in California, one of my mentors, James Roche, mentioned he loved to do puzzles. He said it gets him “out of his head” and into a creative space. And I realized that is exactly what I was doing. I can’t wait to start my next puzzle…as long as it’s not a landscape.