The daughter of a friend of mine got me hooked on one of those mind(less) teaser games for your computer/iPad/phone. The object of the game, which is called Flow, is to connect pairs of colored dots while filling every square on a grid and not crossing the path used to connect any other dots. It starts out pretty easy when you only have five sets of colored dots, but as you get up to seven, eight or nine sets of dots, things suddenly become more complicated. At times it feels like you are tying your brain in knots trying to find a way to connect every color and fill every box. Then one day, quite by accident, in the throws of “stupid game aggravation”, I realized that if you simply move the screen a quarter turn, a path to victory may become clear.
How crazy is that? None of the variables of the game changed. The only thing that was different was my perspective. Simply by looking at the challenge from a new angle, the way forward was evident. Maybe, just maybe, the same concept holds true in the “game” of leadership (a brain teaser if ever there was one!) Leaders today have to deal with connecting an increasing number of dots . . . Sure, this path would work to connect these two dots, but that also boxes in another dot, closing off the path to ultimate success . . . The more “dots” you have to factor into the equation, the more complicated it becomes to find a way forward. And those gnawing empty boxes/unresolved details . . . don’t even get me started on those!
Close your eyes, turn the screen, and try again. Walk away, take a break, and come back with fresh eyes. Erase all the connections you thought were going to work and start from scratch. Yes, I know, you were “that close” to getting it figured out . . . or at least you thought you were. Two “unresolved” boxes still leaves you short of a win. It can be frustrating, all-consuming and really hard to press on toward success, especially after heading down yet another promising path only to run into a wall. To paraphrase Thomas Edison, you haven’t failed, you simply found one additional path that won’t work.
Turn the screen! Chances are everything you need to win is on the board before you.