I spent several hours over the weekend working on a puzzle featuring scoops of ice cream in different flavors. I thought this would be an easy puzzle because of the variety of colors but when I spread out the pieces, all the same color pieces appeared to be the identical and I couldn’t distinguish to which scoop they belonged.

After making little to no progress, I began to see details and features of each piece that revealed their identity: that pecan goes in the scoop in the top left; the cluster of cherry pieces is the pink scoop in the center; the piece with the red connector goes here, etc. All the details became vivid clues and allowed me to complete the picture.

It reminded me of the training exercise where I do a similar thing with oranges. At first, all the fruit looks alike, but then people create distinctions and “identities” for their fruit. Once they craft a story about the fruit, they can easily pick their particular orange out of a bushel.

People, like puzzle pieces or oranges, often look alike when you view them from afar or with broad strokes. It is only when we spend time with them and truly understand their nuances that we come to appreciate the gifts they bring. You never say: “just the piece I’m looking for!” without spending time understanding the specifics of what you need or what you have.

Invest similar time in making connections with other people – by learning about their individuality and discovering what their connection can add to the picture of your world.

 

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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