3 keys to solving the puzzle of life (or anything else): Mindset, Skills & Approach

Let’s assume for a minute that when people say life is a puzzle, they mean it literally. Take every facet of your life, from family to health to career to your to-do list and consider them the pieces of the puzzle of your life. If you lay them out on a table, it would quickly look like a 1,000-piece puzzle piled up.

And it would probably look like the most eclectic puzzle you’ve ever seen. It has tiny pieces (“change that lightbulb”) and huge pieces (“what should I do with my life?”). There are several missing pieces. Some may actually belong to another set (maybe that one problem is really your boss’, not yours.)

Even worse, you are missing the box’s cover, so you have no idea what the puzzle is supposed to look like when you are done.

If it were a real puzzle, many of us would look at that giant pile of pieces and feel overwhelmed. “Too difficult.” “I would never be able to do that.” “Even if I tried, it probably wouldn’t even make a complete picture, so why bother.”

Then there are some people who look at that crazy pile of mismatched pieces with excitement and anticipation, perhaps even joy.

Why the difference? 

This is one of the questions that drives me. Everything I write and teach about comes from finding a part of that answer and wanting to share it with others. 

And now that I’ve decided to turn these musings into structured courses, I created a model to pull all of the pieces together. Whether talking about personal productivity, career advancement, storytelling, or life strategy, it comes down to 3 ingredients: mindset, skills and approach.

If you have these 3 ingredients, effective action naturally follows, which will then get you results.

Let’s look at the puzzle analogy again to see how this works. Why does that subset of folks get excited when they see a puzzle of random puzzle pieces?

  • Mindset: They start with a positive mindset, believing they can solve it (or believe they can get farther than most and take pride in that)
  • Skills: They have good visual pattern matching and dexterity, probably honed by doing countless other puzzles
  • Approach: They know puzzle solving strategies – finding the edges, sorting tiles by color, etc

If you have all 3, you will sit down and start. And if you start, with the right mindset, skills, and approach, your chances of success are very high.

So how best to use these ideas? You turn them into questions: the subject of my next post.

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