Have you ever purchased a jigsaw puzzle, brought it home, dumped out the contents, only to look at the pile of confusion and think that you just bit off more than you could chew? Life can get a bit like this. Problem solving can get a bit like this. At times, what we have before us seems to be a huge pile of puzzle pieces with no reason or logic just random shapes that we must somehow interlock until they begin to make sense.
How do you go about solving your puzzle? Do you stare at the pile and say, “this is impossible”, and sweep the pieces back into the box? Do you stop for a moment and begin to process a methodical way of solving the puzzle? Do you just pick up a piece and see if you can spot anything that looks like it would fit with the piece you have chosen? For me, I separate all of the side pieces. I want to build the frame so that I can then find pieces that attach and bring the picture together. I also separate out like colors or distinctly marked pieces. I keep the box cover of the puzzle in clear view to help determine what the strange piece that I have pulled might be a part of. Regardless of how we solve the puzzle or how we go about trying to solve the puzzle, the end result is all the same (except for those that swept the pieces into the box), and that is that we all see the big picture in the end.
At some point, every puzzler is faced with the thought- there must be pieces missing. We check the floor and the surrounding area as we are certain we don’t have all of the pieces. We just know that we purchased the ONE box that was missing a crucial piece- later to find out it was there all of the time. Why is this? Why does our mind accept so readily that we do not have the resources needed at hand? Often what we need is right in front of us, yet we fail to recognize how it fits into the puzzle so we look right past.
How do you feel when you put in the final piece of the puzzle? It’s a pretty great feeling and one that leaves you with a- “now what?” thought. Do you break down the puzzle immediately or leave it in place a bit to serve as a reminder of your accomplishment? Some people glue their puzzles into an immortalized commemorative state; and I can completely appreciate why. There is great satisfaction in the end, but is this puzzle truly the end? We shouldn't be so quick to appreciate an end to creative thinking.
We possess a mind that has an innate drive to create, to problem solve, and continually think- but what happens when we don’t see or recognize the puzzle pieces? How can such an advanced processor and generator of ideas see past what is right there? What if there were missing pieces? Would you be satisfied staring at a picture with the final piece missing? Chances are it would really bug you. Why? Because it is natural for our minds to want to solve the problem and reach resolution. This is why so many people feel like they are searching for something to make their picture complete. We want the big picture to come together in the end so that we can stand back and see how all of the pieces fit. This is natural. What all too many accept as natural is that there are pieces missing and there is nothing that we can do about it. The picture will always be incomplete.
Have you walked away from the puzzle or sat for hours staring at it, only to have someone walk up, pick up a piece and fit it perfectly into the space you had been toiling over for the longest time? They simply walk up, grab the piece and slip it into place with ease, like it was the only piece of the puzzle that needed to be fit? You then proclaim how you had been looking for that STUPID piece for forever! They smile and make a comment about being a ninja puzzle master- which really gets under your skin. Why could they spot the piece that you couldn’t? You were the one who had everything sorted by color and shape. You knew that the piece HAD to be missing, yet someone else finds it without any trouble and puts the piece into place.
We have been taught from a young age that we do not possess all of the answers. We have been conditioned that our resources are limited to what is known, can be seen, or proven. It has become programmed in that a piece is missing and that we will not see the picture come together. The problem lies in negative programming. When we set out to solve a problem, we do not think we cannot – unless we dump the puzzle back in the box. As we make connections with obvious fits, the picture takes shape. Doubt is created within the mind because of negative experiences (comments, situations, etc.) from our past. Doubt is like glue, holding down the pieces of the puzzle so that we cannot even grab them to try them out. Doubt immortalizes an incomplete puzzle. To combat the doubtful glue that is generated in the mind, we must always be willing to accept that although we may not see the pieces that this does not mean that they are not there.
Whether we walk away from the puzzle for a bit, taking a break to find clarity, or a “ninja puzzle master” helps us find what we are looking for, the piece can be found. The “ninja” had clarity because of a different perspective which posed no barriers of doubt. Sometimes just shifting views of the puzzle helps. Sometimes walking away and coming back. The significance in the last statement is coming back. It is important when faced with a puzzle that the hope that was in us when we started (we can put the pieces together) remains to completion- even when we can’t see the pieces.
Although we have been taught over the course of our lives that we don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, they are there. As you face whatever it is you are facing, or will face, remember to be like the “ninja puzzle master”- with no preconceived barriers. Why can’t you solve this problem? You can. Gain clarity in understanding that you are the ninja master of your mind and there is no amount of glue that can hold you back. Sneak in and take the puzzle piece, fit it into place. There are no missing pieces.
Jolene Church is the author of Thinking 101: Fundamentals of a Successful Mindset and It! Happens: A Practical Guide to Finding Your It. Jolene enjoys coaching others, both individually and through her workshops to help people unlock barriers to their thinking and become their personal best.
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.