This summer’s working vacation happened in Florida at my parents’ new home.
The girls and I both missed the lake house: swimming early and late in the warm water, hiding under the dock for shelter from the sun, and our annual boat ride to Subway for lunch. This year we had more heat and Florida sunshine, golf carts, a sparkling pool, and afternoons inside to escape the hottest part of the day.
While indoors, we had a constant from other years: our puzzle, most often worked in the in-between times, after dinner or while waiting to head out on another adventure.
As always, I used puzzle time as a reminder to reflect on lessons that might help me in my business. Here are a few lessons from this year:
It’s just never going to be perfect. The first year we worked on a puzzle, we finished with one piece missing. This year, we found a piece that looked spit out or chewed (thank you, eBay seller who sold the puzzle as 100% complete) and we knew that we would likely have one piece missing. When we finished, we had THREE missing pieces. Yet even knowing that we wouldn’t see every piece complete, we persevered with the rest. Why? It’s still a beautiful picture even with pieces missing.
The journey is enough. In my business, it helps to keep this in mind. It’s never going to be perfect, but the journey is enough. Are things broken in my business? Always, and it will always be so — because my company consists of people, and people are broken. My company is led by me — and I am broken. But along the way, despite our imperfections, we can create something beautiful and the journey is worth it.
The more you learn, the easier it becomes. This year’s puzzle came together more easily than the last two years. Why? Because we had two years’ experience behind us. We remembered strategies from before that we could apply when we faced difficult challenges. My daughters are two years older this year than they were in 2013 when we started this new tradition; they are older, more patient, and likely have different visual and intellectual acuity than they did before. In my business, I have noticed that over time, some parts of my job are much easier while other parts of my job are slightly easier. As I learn new things, and repeatedly do them, it’s natural for them to become easier, which actually motivates me to keep learning and trying things, even when they’re difficult.
Fresh energy comes from a new person. This year, our neighbor Macy came on vacation with us. She hadn’t worked on one of our puzzles before, and she brought a different energy. When my girls might have been bored or walked away, she continued with a first-timer’s excitement and focus, motivated differently by the desire to see the puzzle completed. In my business, I’ve seen this, too; a new person hired on can bring different perspective and energy to the work.
Sometimes it’s just hard. This puzzle had one section that seemed much more difficult than any other we’ve done. The kids got frustrated and stopped participating, and I found myself alone, patiently, painstakingly trying one piece at a time to get the section completed. It wasn’t fun or exciting, but in order to complete the puzzle, I had to complete that section. My business-life is like that too. There are parts that are just hard; there’s no way to avoid them, I just have to determine to move through them.