Puzzle pieces are a common analogy used when talking about fit – different shapes need to link together to form a whole, a missing piece is noticeable, everyone needs to work together to fulfill the vision, etc. But what about when the pieces are not standard shapes and challenge our perspective of what will fit together?

I thought of this when working on a puzzle that had the most non-traditional shaped pieces that I have seen. It stretched my imagination and ingenuity to blend these pieces into the picture, but, of course, they were necessary to complete it. The same can be true when talking about people instead of pieces.

Think about where you fit on the tolerance scale. Are you only comfortable with “differences” that are of the standard variety or are you able to embrace those which are outside your usual experiences? How can you intentionally seek out pieces that are more varied and come to appreciate the richness they bring to your puzzle? Can you learn to see puzzles as coming in a multitude of shapes and avoid the traditional/non-traditional labels?

It may not feel like it initially, but even shapes that you have not worked with before still fit side by side with your common variations and are the only way to make your picture complete.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

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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