Jigsaw puzzle theory

As I work with various teams across several organizations, I look for trends:

  • What are these teams doing well?

  • What are these teams struggling with?

  • What are all these people saying?

I want to share a recent observation. The teams I work with have a hard time asking for help and sometimes - giving help. Yet, members of these teams get (angry is too strong of a word here) frustrated when people don't help them. It's a paradox ... individuals don't want ask for help, but they are frustrated when others don't see that they need help and just jump in. Can you relate?

I don't think that it is just an issue for members of organizational teams; I think it occurs in all types of relationships - friends, family, fellow church members. etc.  I see many people that are willing to offer help and LOVE to help others, but never want anyone else helping them. "No - no, I am just fine. I don't need anything" happens to be a lie, because they really aren't fine and they really do need something. Why is it so hard to ask for help?  If no one was out there accepting help, who would the helpers help? In families, the people that whine about no one helping them usually goes to mom or dad or a sibling and complains about the insensitive or uncaring family member.  In organizations, the people go to their boss and say "I am so overworked and she/he has time to sit around and surf the internet. Why is my schedule so full, and her's isn't"  Does that sound familiar?

As I work with these teams (or other relationships), I try to get people to take responsibility for what they want. We also try to uncover why they have a difficult time letting someone know they are drowning. It isn't a quick fix, but when people are serious about changing their interactions, it can happen.

Puzzle piece

Puzzle piece

All of this leads to something simple I heard this past week from a guy in a Sunday School class.  He said, "What if we all just looked at each other as though we were pieces of a jigsaw puzzle?  Everyone of us has bumps or parts that stick out and everyone of us has holes. We are meant to fit together. We need to realize that my bumps may be the perfect fit for the holes that you have. It's not about any piece being better than another. It's just about realizing that we can't do this thing called life on our own - we must learn to work together to build a picture."

I'm not quite sure why that simple idea hit me as something profound, but it did. I have been thinking about myself as a puzzle piece for the last couple of days - been considering what are the parts of me that stick out and might fit perfectly with someone's needs.  What is the piece? and Who does it fit with?  I also have been thinking about where I have a hole, and how can I start to ask for help from someone to fill it.  I know plenty of people that are a perfect fit - I just need to ask.

So, what am I asking you to consider this week? I'd like you to notice how you do at asking for help. If you are great at it, what makes it easy for you?  and if you aren't, why is it hard?   I think we should also consider what puzzle piece we have that might fit beautifully with someone elses ... then, go ahead and offer your help ...

One last challenge - Where is a place in your life that you really could use help? Where are you tired or frustrated or helpless or out of ideas or alone? ASK SOMEONE TO HELP YOU WITH THAT SOMETHING THIS WEEK


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