Email: cami@mclarencoaching.com / Call: (916) 747-3660

Puzzle or Mystery?

Rubic's cube - curious

Is this a puzzle or is it a mystery? Don’t decide too soon!

A puzzle is something solvable. It has one right answer. I love this definition of the verb “puzzle”: to “solve or understand something by thinking hard.” This makes me laugh. Hard thinking seems to be what we do when we don’t understand something. We humans seem to be uncomfortable with not knowing. We want to solve, figure out, and fast!

A mystery is “something not fully understood or understandable.” (Webster’s Dictionary)

Finding Possibility

My question today relates to finding possibility in your world – your work, your relationships, anything you want to change or improve. Possibility is key! What do you do with something (someone) you don’t understand? What happens for you when you encounter new things?

Do you recognize and admit that you do not really know what is before you?

Do you decide that you do know what is before you, even when you don’t?

Puzzle piecesFor example, humans. Humans are who we work with in coaching. Humans are who we relate to all day, every day, at home and at work. Humans are the most deep and unknowable creatures there are and yet, we treat them as a puzzle – something to figure out. Psychologists agree that we make many decisions about people within the first 7 seconds of meeting them.

This month we are talking a lot about curiosity and how it works to allow us to see possibility; how it works to support clear communication; how it works to support compassion and relationships.

I believe step one is to recognize how many things we truly do not “know” though we decide we do know. For example,

“He was scowling; he is angry at me.”

“She was late; she doesn’t respect my time.”

“They did not text me back; they do not like me.”

Two Step Process

The first step is to BE curious more often – especially with humans. If you decide the thing (or person) before you is a puzzle, you will only be curious as long as it takes you to “solve it (them!)”.

The second step is to stay in curiosity. To stay in curiosity is to stay in that uncomfortable place of not knowing. Don’t try to resolve it too soon. This is where mystery thinking may support you. Notice when you are trying to solve things. Stop and ask what would happen if I stayed here in the wondering a bit longer?

Because here is how the human brain works. Once we decide we understand something/know the answer/figure it out, we stop looking. This is a very important point. Once you say you know, any other answers that may exist will become invisible to you! As I have said, in the area of coaching and change, seeing possibility is key. And possibility is closed to you once you decide you know the answer.

Wise Words from Rilke

So take these Rilke words to heart:

Man with magnifying glass“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

My challenge to you this week – begin to distinguish which of your challenges are puzzles and which are mysteries.  If you are like me, the mysteries may take you outside your comfort zone as you learn to ask more and more questions and sit with not knowing the answer, but the reward is immeasurable if you keep your eyes open and “live the questions….”

About the Author

Cami McLaren

Cami McLaren

is the owner of McLaren Coaching. She has been coaching attorneys and management since early 2008. She wrote a book, published by the American Bar Association, "Coaching for Attorneys: Improving Productivity and Achieving Balance." She coaches attorneys and managers one-on-one, and provides in-house training designed to improve productivity and bring accountability to the organization.

Get Our Newsletter
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Recent Posts

Start Where You Are

Endings and Beginnings I woke up on Monday, January 3, ready to go – the beginning of a New Year! We get very excited about the end of one year and the beginning of another; don’t we?!? Even though I personally do not believe this...

Read More

The Value of Coaching: Illuminating Choice

Quick quiz: What is coaching? Okay; too broad? Try this question: what is the purpose of coaching? Coaching brings awareness to the choices you make and the choices you have in order to get what you want in your business and your life. When you hire a professional...

Read More

The Risk to Blossom

So I was in spin class… …the instructor talked about planting grass seed and how you have to rake the ground and lay down the seed and rake it again. (Yes; this is what we do in spin!) But wait – rake it again? What...

Read More

The New Rules of Leadership

There is a trend that has been emerging over the last 30 years and is still gaining steam as its benefits are seen in the workplace and the bottom line. It has been called servant-leadership – a leadership philosophy in which the goal of the leader is...

Read More

Share this Post

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email