The puzzle I wrote about yesterday was the perfect balance of being challenging without being frustrating. It took some concentration to put the individual balloons together but, if you worked at it, it was doable and the end result was enjoyable. I have made puzzles before that apparently were designed to be difficult – odd shaped pieces and aggravating cuts – and it was no fun at all.

I think that your job or another project can be judged from a similar perspective: you want to be learning, but not drowning. You need to have enough challenges to keep you stimulated, but not too many where you feel that you aren’t making any progress at all. With proportionate effort, you need at least a few of the pieces to connect.

Yet, if the pieces are too big or the puzzle is too easy, it’s no fun either – you need it to engross you in the effort but reward you when you reach the end and to do so in a reasonable amount of time.

If you are considering a new job or new project, look at it as if you were assessing whether or not to buy the puzzle. One of all solid colors or without any distinguishing features may be more difficult than is worth it, but one from the children’s section may not stretch you enough. Find a fit that looks challenging but excites you and makes you want to jump in and figure out how the pieces go together.

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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