Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Where to begin?

At our “clothing exchange” today at work, I found a free 250 piece puzzle.  I picked it up, since last week I took a ‘natural abilities test which revealed that I have a need for tasks that require problem solving, as well as a high productivity for ideas.

I got back to my desk and decided to try the puzzle for a few minutes before getting back to work.  Now, it’s been a long time since I’ve done a puzzle.

I poured out all the pieces and arranged them by color.  Part of me wanted to find pieces that look alike and try to put them together.  If the puzzle had been 10 pieces, that may have been a good approach.  But with a 250 piece puzzle, that would have taken forever- at least for me.  I started to get overwhelmed with all the pieces calling to me: ‘pick me, pick me!’

Finally, I got the box back out, and did what I felt like was taking a step backwards in completing the puzzle.  I put the non-edge pieces back into the box.

I realized that in order to see the edge pieces clearly, I had to put away the other pieces.

Those center pieces will come later and will bring life to the puzzle, but they are unnecessary right now.

How I solve problems and make decisions in life is similar to how I put together a jigsaw puzzle.

When approaching a problem, I tend to quickly see all the parts and pieces.  I have a natural ability to see a problem and come up with a lot of ideas and ways to solve it.  Not all of these are ‘quality’ ideas, but the ideas that I do have are numerous.

I tend to want all the pieces of the problem or decision to be visible, so I know what I am dealing with.  I want all the information, and I want it now.  Then and only then can I make the best decisions.

However, just as the best way for me to solve the puzzle required me to put some of the pieces away, in many of my life’s problems, I need to learn how to ‘put away’ some of the details.  Those detail pieces call out to me, “pick me! pick me!”  but in the beginning of a problem, I simply do not need them.  I do not need to know how the pieces will fit later – I only need the crucial outline of the part I am working on right now.

The other aspects of the problem will only get in the way if I try to involve them prematurely.

Investing brain energy on the middle pieces will only take away the wisdom that should be applied to the edge pieces.
Even though it feels counter-productive to focus on a select portion of the problem, as oppose to all of the details, it may be more efficient in the end do approach a problem this way.

Of course, it is important to take the whole puzzle into account as well, and looking at all the pieces from time to time is not completely a waste.
The edges are important, but they do not make up the entire puzzle.  The edge pieces provide a safe frame from within which to work.  The center pieces make the most sense once the frame is in place.  All of the pieces are valuable, and have their exact place in the puzzle.

When it comes to making decisions, I need to ‘put away’ parts of the problem that will distract me, and I long to have discernment to know which pieces are crucial edge pieces and deserve my first attention.

When the puzzle is complete, I hope I will not jump right away to the next puzzle, but stand back and enjoy the beauty that only exists through a complex combination of both edge and center pieces!


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