The Puzzle without the Cover

Leading is like working on a puzzle without the cover. In turbulent times, throw three puzzles in the same pile. In crisis, hide the edges.

Certainty about the future is illusion.

At best, leaders experience a life of ambiguity, punctuated with guiding moments of clarity.

The picture:

Mission, vision, and values are the colors of your future.

  1. Mission: What value do you bring to others? A mission that centers on your organization is only compelling to you.
  2. Vision: Where are you going?
  3. Values: What behaviors best achieve mission and vision? Choose three to five behaviors that you’ll always exemplify, regardless of the situation.

Mission, vision, and values don’t predict the future. They make it.


3 factors of stability when the picture is missing:

#1. Character.

Successfully putting the leadership puzzle together is about character, more than the puzzle. When the cover is lost, it’s all about the person putting the puzzle together. Think about patience, grit, courage, curiosity, and openness.

Think who before what.

#2. Relationships.

The people around you are the biggest factor of success. This is especially true when the puzzle is mixed up and the box top is lost.

Surround yourself with people who:

  1. Believe in the mission, embrace the vision, and exemplify your values. Invite believers to join. Ignore or reject the rest. 
  2. Honor each other’s strengths.
  3. Address adversity optimistically.
  4. Speak with kind candor, courageous vulnerability, and forward-facing curiosity.

Surround yourself with true believers.

#3. Mentors, coaches, and the voice of experience.

Voices from the outside protect you from getting lost in the puzzle. No one knows the future, but a few have faced challenges similar to yours. Some are skilled at helping you find clarity.

You need someone to help you find your compass, not tell you what to do.

What brings stability and certainty to the leadership journey?