I do crossword puzzles. I find them relaxing. They provide some time to just exercise the brain.
As I was doing a puzzle recently, I realized I have rules for crosswords. Really one rule: I don’t ask for help.
I don’t ask for help from those around me. I don’t look up words or information in a dictionary. I just go to the limits of what I know.
Somewhere along the way, I determined that a crossword puzzle done with help is not really done. I will take it as far as I can take it, then I put it aside unsolved.
As I was sitting there struggling with a crossword, I realized how stupid my rule was.
Because of my stubbornness, the task doesn’t get completed. It just lays there. A waste of paper.
Because of my stubbornness, I don’t learn. Occasionally, there is an answer I know but I just can’t remember. I have found that if I struggle for awhile it may come to me. But, frequently, there are clues I just don’t know. No amount of struggle will help me come up with the answer. I am ignorant. For a puzzle not to be solved because of ignorance is a sin.
Because of my stubbornness, I don’t get better. If I am not willing to get help in solving my puzzle, I won’t be able to answer the questions the next time they come up. I’ll be stuck again. If I take some time to find the answers, I build on my knowledge base. One little clue or word revealed can make the rest of the puzzle fall in place.
Because of my stubbornness, I am mired into the minor leagues of puzzles. The toughest puzzles to attack are those printed in The New York Times. I have only once succeeded in filling out that puzzle without help. So, you know what happens: I don’t usually try to fill out the puzzle.
So, here’s why I am describing my crossword behavior to you: I see that amongst us as well. In our plants, we have many people who know many things. They don’t all know the same things.
When you are confronted with something you don’t know it is not a sign of inadequacy to admit you don’t know. It’s actually a sign of strength.
Asking for help will allow us to get things done. Asking for help will allow us to learn. Asking for help will jolt you from a stuck place. Asking for help allows you to move to a new level. Asking for help allows you to prepare for the tougher puzzles that come.
So, when it comes to crosswords, I think I will try some new rules. How about you?
PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.