As a former national youth representative, it was my responsibility to be prepared for whatever the host organization expected of me. One day, five minutes after arriving at a conference, the event chair informed me I was to be the keynote speaker due to a cancellation. I considered the uplifting theme of the conference, and decided to share a story told to me by a friend earlier that day.
A five-year old boy wanted play-time with his dad. The father needed a few minutes, yet his son was relentless. In desperation, the father took a map from a magazine and tore it into small pieces, and said, “Let’s play a game. When you finish taping these pieces together the right way, my time is yours”. He smiled, knowing his son would be busy for quite some time.
Five minutes later his son returned with the pieces arranged correctly and taped together. In amazement, his father said, “How did you know how to put all of the pieces together the right way?”
His son replied, “When I put the pieces down, I noticed a picture of a man on the other side. I didn’t know how the map went together, so I decided to work on the other side. I knew, if I had the man together, I had the world together.”
The story connected with me, and has even deeper meaning to me as an adult. There are more pieces in my world today, and most are far more indispensable than the pieces I considered in high school and college.
Whenever it feels like there are too many pieces in my world or some no longer fit, all I have to do is turn over the pieces that do fit. I know the other side, and it becomes relatively easy to find the edges, corners… and the center.
If your world feels like it is out of focus and you need some direction, take a step back, look at the puzzle , and piece together ‘the picture on the other side’.
Originally published on LinkedIn at