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Doing a Puzzle Without the Box

Mar 15, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson


Let's try this metaphor on for size:

Imagine putting together a large puzzle, filled with different images and colors, without the benefit of the picture on the box. Of course it’s confusing to know where to place all the pieces without knowing what we're creating.

Leadership doesn’t come with a box. The picture might only become clear as we put the pieces together. 

If we don’t know the kind of leader we are meant to be, it can be difficult to put the pieces together in a meaningful way. 

Often new and aspiring leaders try putting pieces together based on the images passed down to them by previous leaders and inspirational role models. Sadly, they might get mired in imposter syndrome before they even begin. We can become unfairly disappointed in ourselves because we lack the pieces others so eloquently display. 

We can try forcing the pieces to fit into the traditional images that are etched into our minds, but in time, we'd realize there are some pieces that just can't be forced. Leading inauthentically might be lead us to spend too much time believing we can be happy only when all the pieces are finally together. 

So how can we know what our puzzle is meant to become?

It isn't really that complicated. 

When we begin with our values and an authentic pause in the mirror, we won’t just begin with what’s easy, we'll begin with what’s right for us.

It's not about the image.

Like a rewarding puzzle, leadership is a process. It’s not really about a final aspirational image, but about the journey and the people around the table. 

It's always nice to have a little help with a challenging puzzle. 

Role models who align with our values can serve as exceptional mentors and puzzle partners when the pieces just won't gently come together. 

You never know what's around the corner unless you peak. Hold someone's hand while you do it. You will feel less scared. - Amy Poehler

We won’t know what's around the corner, but that one next blind curve might tie together a few loose pieces and make the image that much more beautiful. 



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