Have you ever put together a jigsaw puzzle? If you have, you know exactly what it feels like to be working through it and then finally finding that one piece of the puzzle that had haunted you for the past couple of hours or maybe even days. And most times, at least for me, when I did finally find the elusive piece, it had been right in front of me the whole time. It’s frustrating and rewarding all in the same moment.
During this time of staying home in self-quarantine mode, we are passing the time in several ways, and one of those ways is assembling jigsaw puzzles. So, I am currently and acutely aware of the scenario above. One of the first things that happens when putting together a jigsaw puzzle is that we typically find all the edges and begin building the perimeter, don’t we? Then, we start to fill in the middle. And with each added piece the image takes shape and we build momentum as we know that completion is getting closer. But somehow, the temporary sense of accomplishment and joy we feel as we look at our completed puzzle is replaced by a certain sadness, the puzzle is finished.
The world seems like a bit of a jigsaw puzzle right now doesn’t it? Maybe our lives feel like a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle too. The health crisis has brought with it all kinds of uncertainty, missing pieces, and missing information. Disruption in employment, empty shelves in the grocery store, shortage of health-care resources and hospital beds, travel restrictions and bans, work and school closures, and worship services and gatherings being canceled. Throw in the various levels of compliance and non-compliance with social distancing and the puzzle gets even harder.
Here’s the thing. Just imagine if we were given all the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle but not a picture of what the finished product was supposed to look like. It wouldn’t be impossible to finish, but it just might take a little longer and be a bit harder. It’s kind of where we all are right now. We are looking at this giant pile of puzzle pieces and we don’t know what it is supposed to look like in the end.
Right now, what is happening is that country by country, state by state, city by city, and home by home, we are all building our perimeters. We are finding, defining, and connecting all the edges so that we can start to fill in the interior of the puzzle. Some of the pieces seem obvious to us, and others are still elusive and that’s okay. You see, with each new piece we find and connect, and with each new piece that we understand where it goes, we get that much closer to solving the puzzle.
For us, it’s just my wife and me working on our jigsaw puzzles together at home. However, this worldwide jigsaw puzzle has many more people trying to put it together. There are a lot of really smart people and organizations working towards solving the puzzle. There is a lot of money and focus being applied to getting everything reassembled. This is a puzzle that is going to take longer than we had thought, will be harder than we anticipated, and will cost more than we had planned for. But in the end, it will be solved as all puzzles eventually are.
And unlike the personal jigsaw puzzles we work on in our homes and for fun, this is a puzzle that when we do solve it, there will not be any sadness or remorse when it is over.
How about you? Are you finding ways to shelter safely? Are you finding ways to occupy your time productively? I would love to hear all about your puzzle-solving techniques at firstname.lastname@example.org, and when we can work through this puzzle with patience and diligence, it really will be a better than good week.
Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.
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