Brain Power

Brain Power - picture by Andy Robbins

We are in the middle of completing a jigsaw puzzle of the famous painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’ by Delacroix. As you can see from the blog picture, we have a long way to go. We’ve also completed more of the easy bits, we have a lot of varying shades of brown to complete. I don’t blame you if you are wondering why I am writing about this puzzle. Working on it has shown me something that is fascinating. It’s about how our brains work.

Getting Stuck

I tend to work on the puzzle when I get a break and at first I usually make pretty good progress. After a short while I get stuck. However hard I stare at the pieces, nothing pops out. I can’t seem to see where any pieces go. The pieces start to blend together.

After experiencing this yesterday, I took a break. When I came back to it, I could see where a good number of the pieces fit in. It seemed effortless. The answers were obvious and I made great progress. What happened? Why did these pieces suddenly fall into place? Nothing had changed during my break.

Brain Power

I assume the answer is brain power. Our brain is an amazing thing, so much so that I don’t fully appreciate its capabilities. Taking a break gave it the opportunity to work on the puzzle in the background analyzing what I had observed. When I came back to it, the answers were clear for me to see.

So how is this relevant to leadership? Leaders are responsible for finding solutions to increasingly complex problems. In the past I would solve tough problems by increasing my focus. In effect working harder in an attempt to force the answer to emerge. The puzzle is showing me I may be better served by simply taking a break and doing something fun. When I come back to it, I’ll probably have a completely different perspective.

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