“It’s an elbow.” “No, it’s a necktie.”
“What about this? Is this a leg?”
“No, it is the edge of a table.”
These are the types of arguments you have when putting together a puzzle with your wife. Well, these are the types of arguments I have when putting together a puzzle with my wife. It is easy to think you know what you’re looking at when you are staring carefully at an individual puzzle piece — it is just as easy to be completely wrong.
How do you react when you’re completely wrong about something?
First, let’s agree that when we are putting a puzzle together, we can see both the big picture and we can see all of the individual pieces. The trick lies in how well you can quickly, methodically, and calmly get all of the little pieces assembled so they create the bigger picture.
We have likely all put a puzzle together, so we can also agree that the best way to bring the bigger picture into focus is to first assemble the pieces that obviously go together. While people may use different strategies, each one involves starting with something that is known and gradually allowing the puzzle to form the picture. Inevitably, we also know we will get stuck at some point along the way.
How do you react when you get stuck?
Frustration is the number one reaction I see when someone learns they are wrong when they were convinced they were right. Frustration is also the most common reaction I see when someone gets stuck at a particular part of the puzzle. I also see people blame the puzzle, blame themselves, or even blame somebody else when they get hung up on these unpleasantries.
We use the same “puzzle process” in our lives and in the workplace. Our goals, plans and projects are the big pictures we are trying to piece together. The same frustration occurs when we encounter unpleasant obstacles. Our reactions, however, are more important than we realize.
What happens if you get frustrated when you are trying to piece together a puzzle at work or in your life? You may think this frustration is temporary, but are you seeing the bigger picture? Do you realize how that frustration bleeds into and affects other areas in your life?
Fortunately, there are two other feelings that bleed into other areas of your life – peace and confidence. These feelings are a much better alternative to frustration. Easier said than done, but worth your time and effort to try and achieve.
The next time you’re hit with a wave of frustration, try these methodical steps to bring things back towards peace and confidence:
1. Remember there is a bigger picture made up of smaller pieces.
2. Remember the smaller pieces are hard to understand by themselves.
3. Remember all the pieces you need are in front of you — none are missing.
4. Remember you can only put one piece into place at a time. The next piece.
5. Find a piece, any piece that you can put into place now.
6. Smile and repeat.
The work you do is important. Equally important is how you do the work you do. At Attorney Computer Systems, we are professional puzzle solvers. We are in your offices observing how you work on your puzzles, and helping you solve the mystery of how things fit together. Over the years you have taught us how important it is to be worry-free. You have taught us when somebody feels good about the work they do, they do good work and inspire good work from those around them. Therefore, let us take a moment of our time to remind you – one piece of the puzzle at a time. When you worry less, you practice more.
Paul Purdue is a principal at Attorney Computer Systems. He’s a self-proclaimed “infrastructure nerd.” Check out Paul’s growing library of legal technology articles and videos on Attorney Computer Systems’ web site.